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Nations At North Korea Meeting Commit To Considering More Sanctions

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VANCOUVER – A 20-nation meeting on North Korea agreed on Tuesday to consider imposing unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang that go beyond those required by U.N. Security Council resolutions, the United States and Canada said in a joint statement.

The meeting, to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, also agreed to support dialogue between the two Koreas “in hopes that it leads to sustained easing of tensions”, the statement added.

The United States and Canada co-hosted the day-long meeting in Vancouver to discuss ways of forcing North Korea to give up its nuclear arms.

The statement said participants “agree to consider and take steps to impose unilateral sanctions and further diplomatic actions that go beyond those required by U.N. Security Council resolutions”. It gave no details.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has refused to give up development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States in spite of increasingly severe U.N. sanctions, raising fears of a new war on the Korean peninsula.

Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha pose for a photo during the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Ben Nelms

The Vancouver meeting also committed to ensuring that sanctions already in place were fully implemented.

Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said all countries needed to work together to improve interdiction of ships attempting to skirt the sanctions and said there must be “new consequences” for North Korea “whenever new aggression occurs.”

Slideshow (12 Images)

North and South Korea held formal talks for the first time in two years this month and Pyongyang said it would send athletes to the Olympics.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said in Vancouver she hoped the dialogue would continue well beyond the Olympics, but stressed that existing sanctions must be applied more rigorously.

“These two tools – tough sanctions and pressure on the one hand, and the offer of a different, brighter future on the other – (have) worked hand in hand,” she said.

Reporting by David Ljunggren and David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Matt Spetalnick in Washington;

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Greece-macedonia Name Row Edging Towards Solution Says Merkel

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BERLIN – Macedonia is closer than any time in the last decade to settling a long-standing dispute over its name with Greece which has thwarted Skopje’s ambitions to join NATO and the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

“I am very pleased and relieved that .. there is movement in the talks,” Merkel told reporters at a joint news conference with Macedonian Premier Zoran Zaev.

“In the last ten years, the solution has not been as close as now and it would be wonderful if the remaining difficulties can be bridged,” she said.

Greece objects to the former Yugoslav republic’s use of the name Macedonia, arguing that it could imply territorial claims over its own northern region of the same name.

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Kremlin Says Russian Defense Sector Fine Accuses Us Of Unfair Competition

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MOSCOW – The Kremlin said on Wednesday that “everything is fine” in the Russian defense sector, responding to an assertion by the U.S. State Department that sanctions had cost Russia $3 billion in lost defense contracts.

“I can just say that everything is fine, everything is fine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a phone call with reporters on Wednesday.

Peskov said Russia was “trying to hedge risks related to instances of unfair competition on the part of the United States in the market of military-technical cooperation.”

Reporting by Max Rodionov; Writing by Polina Ivanova;

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Drought-hit Cape Town Dreads Day Zero When Taps Will Run Dry

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CAPE TOWN – A tough water-saving regime and the generosity of farmers have given South Africa’s main tourist hub welcome respite from a severe drought and helped push back a dreaded “Day Zero” when Cape Town’s taps are expected to run dry.

On Tuesday, the city of four million moved its estimate for “Day Zero” to July 9 from June 4 due to a decline in water usage, and after the Groenland farmers association also released 10 billion liters of water from their private reservoirs into the Steenbras storage dam.

South Africa has declared a national disaster over the drought afflicted southern and western regions, including Cape Town, which means the government could spend more money and resources to deal with the crisis.

Cape Town, which attracts about two million visitors each year, wants to become more resilient as the effects of climate change are felt, similar to other dry cities including Melbourne and California.

“We know that while we are going through a challenging time, we are building a world-class green economy that will be a beacon of hope for many places around,” said Tim Harris, chief executive for Wesgro, a regional trade and tourism agency.

A dried out wicket is seen at a cricket pitch in Cape Town, South Africa, February 11, 2018. Without water, the wickets are considered dangerous to players. All club and school cricket matches has been cancelled as the city attempts to avert a major water crisis. REUTERS/Mike HutchingsThe chronic drought is hurting visitor numbers and knocking a rare economic bright spot, officials said previously.

According to the South African Weather Service, two of the driest seasons ever recorded for the city since observations started in 1921 happened in the last three years: In 2015 when 549 mm (21 inches) fell and last year – the driest year on record – when annual rainfall totaled 499 mm.

Slideshow (13 Images)But, faced with severe water restrictions and punitive levies, residents of Cape Town have cut collective consumption by more than half in the last three years, as the city targets a daily consumption rate of no more than 450 million liters.

At the moment, restrictions make it compulsory for residents to use no more than 50 liters per person per day, as city officials look to see out the hot summer months into winter, when Cape Town usually gets rain.

“We must all keep doing absolutely everything in our power to reach the target set by the national department to reduce our urban usage by 45 percent,” said Ian Neilson, the deputy mayor.

Already hundreds of Cape Town residents are being forced to line up overnight to stock up on water in South Africa’s second largest economic hub and tourism attraction.

However, several desalination plants are planned and together with underground water reserves, are expected to help augment water sources well into the future.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf;

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