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Kim’s visit to China signals growing bond between two nations

Donald Trump likes to boast of his deep friendship with Kim Jong Un.

However, the North Korean leader has chosen to spend his birthday with Chinese president Xi Jinping, Mr Trump’s greatest geopolitical opponent.

Awks much? Slightly, but Mr Kim’s train ride to Beijing is still good news for the US president, as Mr Kim makes the trip to China before important summits (this is his fourth to the country).

His presence in Beijing is a sign that serious preparations are underway for the second Trump-Kim summit, which Mr Trump has said will happen soon.

Also on board the armour-plated, luxury train was Kim Yong-chol, the former spy chief who has been heading negotiations with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo – negotiations that haven’t got very far to date.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping, in Dalian, China in this undated photo released on May 9, 2018

Kim Jong Un has met Xi Jinping a number of times already

What might Mr Kim and Mr Xi be talking about?

The regimes of Beijing and Pyongyang are almost as inscrutable as each other but in this case, we have a fairly good idea, thanks to Kim Jong Un’s New Year address.

In that televised speech, Mr Kim reiterated his pledge that North Korea would neither make and test nuclear weapons any longer nor use and proliferate them.

But he also warned: “We even might find ourselves in a situation where we have no other choice but to find a new way”.

Does that mean more missile launches and nuclear tests?

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) during a lunch at the Okryugwan restaurant on September 19, 2018 in Pyongyang, North Korea

Kim Jong Un has been in diplomatic overdrive recently, also meeting South Korean president Moon Jae In late last year

Frank Ruediger, professor of east Asian economy and society at the University of Vienna, argues not.

Writing on 38 North, a website devoted to analysis about North Korea, earlier this month, he said: “Kim’s confidence stems from the expectation of growing and reliable support by China.”

That confidence seems to be well founded.

Global Times, a Chinese state-run newspaper, today quoted an unnamed expert saying that Mr Kim’s “visit to China at the beginning of 2019 indicates Kim’s trust in China”.

“Kim still believes China can help him make breakthroughs in internal and diplomatic situations,” the newspaper said.

There are two ways of interpreting all that.

Firstly, that North Korea can exploit its new, better diplomatic relationship with the US to ask for more from China – to play the two superpowers off against each other.

This is a strategy that China itself successfully adopted during the Cold War, alternatively drawing closer to the US and the Soviet Union to extract concessions from them.

Secondly, that China might use its influence with North Korea as leverage in its own trade war with the US.

Either way, North Korea benefits.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during a historic summit of the two nations.

Donald Trump thinks another meeting is all that is needed for a breakthrough – but he may be surprised

The background of the trade war cannot be ignored: a US negotiating team is also in Beijing trying to reach an agreement before 1 March, when increased tariffs are scheduled to kick in. Both sides seem keener than they have previously been to settle the issue.

Mr Trump likes to think that all it takes to make a breakthrough on North Korea is another one-on-one meeting with Kim. Sod geopolitics, forget the boring details: personal charisma will win through.

Mr Kim’s visit to Beijing shows how much more complicated it actually is.

The year 2019 promised to be a big one for East Asia and for the world, and it’s already delivering.

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Kidnappers kill British woman in Nigeria

Kidnappers in Nigeria have shot dead a British woman and a Nigerian man, and abducted three others, officials have said.

Police and the British High Commission have named the woman as Faye Mooney, 29, and said they were aware of an incident which took place at a holiday resort on Friday but added that they would not speculate on a motive.

Her next of kin have been informed.

The Briton was working in Nigeria as a communications specialist for aid group Mercy Corps and was one of 12 tourists travelling to the northern city of Kaduna from Lagos, police said.

Police said Ms Mooney, who worked in the west African nation for nearly two years, had been attending a party before the incident.

In a statement, Mercy Corps said it was “utterly heartbroken” by the killing.

Ms Mooney's employers said they were 'utterly heartbroken' at her death. Pic: LinkedIn

Ms Mooney’s employers said they were ‘utterly heartbroken’ by her death. Pic: LinkedIn

A Kaduna state police spokesman said: “Some suspected kidnappers armed with dangerous weapons gained entry into a recreational resort called Kajuru Castle in Kajuru local government area shooting sporadically and in the process shot dead two persons, including an expatriate lady, and took away three others.”

Officers have not yet named the other person killed in the incident.

No individuals or groups have said they are behind the killing and police are yet to identify the kidnappers.

Northern Nigeria has been dealing with a Boko Haram and Islamic State insurgency and clashes between farmers and herders, in which hundreds have died.

Kaduna has seen a spate of kidnappings by armed men in recent months.

In a statement, the British High Commission said: “We are engaging with the Nigerian authorities, and we understand an investigation is under way.”

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Hong Kong: Nigerian Woman Nabbed ‘With Cocaine In Condoms Hidden In Her Vagina’

Customs officials in Hong Kong have apprehended a Nigerian woman who arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport on Thursday with more than half a kilogramme of cocaine hidden in her body, South China Morning Post is reporting.

According to the Hong Kong-headquartered Asian paper, the 37-year-old, who claimed to be a businesswoman, arrived in the city on a flight from Lagos via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

She was said to be acting suspiciously, shortly after her arrival on Thursday, hence she was taken to hospital for a check-up that confirmed she had foreign objects in her body.

“She was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei for a check-up and confirmed to have foreign objects in her body,” the paper said.

“Officers first recovered 215 grams of cocaine contained in condoms and plastic bags found in her vagina. She later discharged 24 capsules of cocaine, each weighing 14 grams, from her body.

“The haul, weighing 550 grams in total, was estimated to be worth HK$522,000 (US$66,900). The authorities said the woman, who was detained for inquiries, may discharge more drugs.”

Under Hong Kong’s Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, the maximum penalty for drug trafficking is life imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine.

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Masu zanga-zanga na jiran sanarwar mika mulki ga farar hula a Sudan

Protesters have continued to stage a sit-in in central Khartoum

Hakkin mallakar hoto

Image caption

Masu zanga-zanga a kasar Sudan na kokarin sanar da majalisar da farar hula za ta jagoranta da suke so ta jagoranci kasar wace za ta kasance a matsayin gwamamnatin rikon kwarya bayan hambarar da Omar al-Bashir.

Dubban masu zanga-zangar na ci gaba da haduwa a wajen shelkwatar rundunar sojojin kasar da ke birnin Khartoum.

Shugabannin da ke jagorantar zanga-zangar na ci gaba da tattaunawa da sojojin kasar tun bayan juyin mulkin da aka yi a kasar.

A ranar Lahadi ne dai sojojin suka bayyana aniyarsu ta ba farar hula mulki, amma suna kokarin kafa majalisar da farar hular za ta jagoranta da taimakon sojojin.

Me shugabannin masu zanga-zangar ke shiryawa?

Kungiyar Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), ita ce kungiyar da ta jagoranci zanga-zangar da ta yi sanadiyar juyin mulkin hambarar da Omar al-Bashir kuma har a yanzu, ita ce gaba-gaba wajen gudanar da zanga-zanga da kuma tattaunawa da sojojin wajen ganin cewa mulki ya dawo ga farar hula.

Tun a baya dai, daya daga cikin jagoran kungiyar ta SPA ya bayyana cewa wannan zai iya kawo tsaiko wajen bayyana majalisar riko ta farar hula amma ya tabbatar da cewa sanarwar za a yi ta ne a ranar Lahadi a filin da ake gudanar da zanga-zangar.

Masu zanga-zangar na san majalisar rikon ta zamana ita ce za ta ci gaba da gudanar da harkokin gwamanti har zuwa lokacin da za a gudanar da zabe a kasar.

Me sojojin za su yi?

A ranar Lahadi, sojojin sun amsa da cewa za su amsa kiran da masu zanga-zangar suke yi na mulkin farar hula cikin mako daya inda suka bayyana ra’ayinsu na majalisar ta zamana ta hadaka tsakanin farar hula da sojojin.

Tun tuni dai sojojin ke nuna tirjiya wajen mika mulki ga farar hula inda suka ki bayar da kai domin bori ya hau.

Amma kuma sojojin sun saki wasu daga cikin ‘yan siyasar da ke gidan kaso inda kuma a wani bangaren kuma sojojin suka kama wasu daga cikin mukarraban Omar al-Bashir.

Duk da cewa sojojin sun yi alkawarin ba za su kori masu zanga-zangar daga filin da suke gudanar da ita ba, amma sun yi kira garesu da su bari a ci gaba da rayuwa cikin walwala.

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