WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit North Korea again next week to try to persuade it to abandon its nuclear weapons, and will take a new US special representative, Stephen Biegun, with him in an attempt to break the deadlock.
Pompeo on Thursday named the Ford Motor Co executive, a veteran Republican foreign policy hand, as the US special envoy to North Korea.
“Steve will direct US policy toward North Korea and lead our efforts to achieve President Trump’s goal of the final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea as agreed to by Kim Jong Un,” Pompeo told reporters, referring to the North Korean leader.
“He and I will be traveling to North Korea next week to make further diplomatic progress toward our objective,” Pompeo said.
It will be Pompeo’s fourth trip this year aimed at getting North Korea to scrap a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States and his second since an unprecedented June summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim that produced much fanfare but little obvious progress.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo had no plans to meet with Kim in Pyongyang.
“We don’t have that scheduled; we have no expectations of meeting with Chairman Kim. That is not a part of this trip,” she told a regular news briefing.
Biegun said of North Korea: “The issues are tough and will be tough to resolve.” But he added that Trump had created an opening “that we must take by seizing every possible opportunity to realize the vision for a peaceful future for the people of North Korea.”
Biegun served as vice president of international governmental affairs for Ford for 14 years. Prior to that, he was a senior staffer for former President George W Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and he also advised members of Congress on foreign affairs.
Trump hailed the summit in Singapore as a success and even went as far as to declare that the nuclear threat from North Korea was over, but Pyongyang has given no indication that it is willing abandon its arsenal unilaterally.
Pompeo was charged with heading follow-up negotiations, but these appear to have made little progress, with the two sides apparently far apart on the fundamental issue of denuclearisation and the US demand for this before North Korea sees any relief from tough international sanctions.
On his last visit to Pyongyang, in July, Pompeo left hailing progress, only for North Korea within hours to denounce his “gangster-like demands.” He did not meet with Kim on that trip, although he did on his first two visits, which took place before the summit.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump defended his efforts to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons, saying he believed North Korea had taken specific steps toward denuclearisation. He said he would “most likely” meet again with Kim.
However, several members of the US negotiating team said they had seen no sign that North Korea was prepared to negotiate seriously until the United States promised relief from sanctions in return.
Some US intelligence and defense officials consider Pompeo’s planned trip to be premature and said the prospects for significant progress appeared dim.
Kelly Magsamen, a former US deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian affairs now at the Center for American Progress, said Biegun’s appointment would “hopefully bring focus and coherence” to US North Korea diplomacy.
Joshua Pollack, a North Korea missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, noted that Biegun’s background was mostly in Russian issues.
But Pollack said that Pompeo could enhance Biegun’s credibility as a negotiator by personally introducing him in Pyongyang. “That would allow Pompeo to step back somewhat until more groundwork has been laid in working-level talks,” he said.
Biegun’s name was floated earlier this year among a list of contenders to replace Trump’s then national security adviser, HR McMaster, who was ultimately succeeded by John Bolton.
Biegun fills a vacancy that has existed since the late February retirement of Joe Yun, an appointee of former President Barack Obama and a strong advocate for diplomacy with North Korea. Soon after Yun’s departure, Trump embraced a diplomatic approach to Pyongyang that led to the June summit.
North Korea state media last week blamed lack of progress on members of the US negotiating team and said breaking the deadlock would demand “a bold decision on the part of President Trump.”
A commentary in its Rodong Sinmun newspaper said those opposed to dialogue were seeking to derail talks with baseless references to “secret nuclear facilities” in North Korea.
The Balochistan I know
Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan and is home to a fair share of the beautiful landscapes. Due to the media portraying a dangerous image of Balochistan, many people are hesitant to believe that this place is home to heartwarming locals and breathtaking locations.
1- Pir Ghayb (The Invisible Saint) Waterfalls
Bolan, BalochistanPir Ghaib Falls, is an awe-inspiring view of Pir Ghaib, Balochistan. Locals here believe in the myth of the Invisible Saint (Pir Ghaib), who was saved by the Almighty, after a wicked King’s men attacked him. The Saint struck a stick in the mountain from which the water pours out till date, believe it or not.
2- Moola Chotok
Khuzdar, BalochistanMoola Chotok, Is a tourism deprived sight. Amidst stronghold of nationalists in the Jhalawan belt, Chotok seemed like a lost cause at first. Ever since the military operations in Khuzdar division, Chotok has been swiped clean of all dangers and is now open to locals and tourists to go and witness the unfathomable beauty.
3- Quaid-e-Azam Residency Ziarat, Balochistan
Father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohommad Ali Jinnah spent his days of affliction in this wooden cottage in Ziarat, Balochistan. Definitely one of the top tourist attractions of Pakistan. The place holds historic importance but faced a bombing attack on 2013. However miraculously the concrete structure was standing and the photographs along with the other artifacts were safe and sound. The reconstruction work completed by renowned builder Nayyer Ali Dada and the rehabilitated Ziarat Residency opened on August 14, 2014.
4- Hannah Jheel (Hannah Lake and Urrak) – Quetta, Balochistan
This is how the Hannah Lake looks in winters, frozen, frosted and astounding. This is where people from all over Pakistan go first when they visit Quetta. Only about 18km away from the city, the Hannah Lake serves as the perfect escape for the locals.
5- Hingol Nationa Park, Hingol, Balochistan
Exotic looking mountains, rare and exotic animals including the Markhor and several others of the deer family, which are protected by the National park authorities, surrounded by shallow blue waters in monsoon seasons and shallow frozen lake in winters.
6- Pir Chattal Noorani Gandhawa, Jhal Magsi, Balochistan
An oasis in the middle of nowhere. An astonishing natural habitat amid desert plains with a mythical story to follow. The awe-inspiring oasis caters to thousands of rare fish in the water. Legend has it, that if you catch or eat one of Pir Chattal’s fishes, you’re bound to either die of poisoning or the fish comes out of your mouth alive in one piece. This myth is a huge tourist attraction of Balochistan. But maybe this is just the locals way of making sure the fish are not eaten.
7- Prospect Point
Located about 6 km from Ziarat town, called Nari Sar by locals, Prospect Point offers a panoramic view of the Koshki valley below. A Jupiter tree is also located there which is in the shape in Allah’s (SWT) name, known to be here for many many years.
8- Astola Island, Gwadar/Pasni
Astola Island, also known as Jezira Haft Talar Satadip or ‘Island of the Seven Hills’, is a small uninhabited Pakistani island in the Arabian Sea. Also the largest island in Pakistan, it is the epitome of Balochistan’s undermined beauty.
9- Jhal Magsi, Balochistan
Famous for its desert safari and the yearly desert rally, caters huge crowds and sponsors every year. Rally enthusiasts from all over Pakistan round up in one place for stay till the rally ends. The desert like plains of Jhal Magsi offer the best route in Pakistan for people who like to off-road. Definitely one of Pakistan’s top attractions.
10- Zezri, ziarat balochistan
Zezri, is one of the most beautiful valleys of Ziarat. This valley possesses a breathtaking beauty. The valley has very large and some of the oldest Juniper trees. The mountains surrounding the valley are called khalifat. It has untouched natural beauty which make it unique from other valleys of Ziarat.
Exploring Art in Istanbul
Zara Sajid’s recent trip to Turkey was a fun mix of quality family time, good food, a serious dose of history and culture and an overdose of art! Overdose in a good way though!
“After spending a day in Istanbul, you realize how the entire city serves as a canvas not only for historic art & architecture but is also home to contemporary art galleries & museums but what adds to the character of the artistic landscape the most is the street art/graffiti that you’ll see everywhere. You walk out of your hotel and there it is! You’re unconsciously surrounded by art all the time! It’s exhilarating to say the least! I also made a day trip to Konya. Spent the day at the Rumi Museum where Rumi himself is buried as well and enjoyed the whirling dervish sema in the afternoon. This was one of the highlights of my trip. There’s so much to absorb. Absolutely loved the zen vibe of this place!”
Discovering Africa with Hajra Tariq
Hajra Tariq is a full time Graphic Designer and Photographer (IG: pinkrikshaw.studio ). She is also an aspiring traveler. Having lived in different countries around the world, she realized how important art and design was and how different cultures have helped evolve her.
“My goal in life isn’t to travel the world, to not regret not doing something my heart has longed to do. My latest travel expedition took me to the heart of East Africa, Kenya. I’ve always imagined myself on an African safari and my dream finally came true! We’ve all seen things that take our breath away. For me, it was a perfectly clear night at the Mara Ashnil in the heart of the Masai Mara National Reserve where you were literally inches away from the “BIG 5”, and facing the sunset on a yatch in the middle of the Kilifi Creek . Two extremely different things, in one country, and yet they both didn’t fail to amaze me.”
Accompanied by her favourite travel buddy, her sister, here are a few of her best memories…
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