Seoul, South Korea – Chinese President Xi Jinping’s arrival today in Seoul for a summit simultaneously snubs nuclear-armed North Korea, bolsters an already booming trade relationship with South Korea and sends Washington and Tokyo a message of Beijing’s growing influence south of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
While there were smiles and pomp for Xi’s arrival in the South, North Korea welcomed the leader of its only major ally and crucial source of fuel and food with a flurry of recent rocket and missile tests, the latest on Wednesday, meant to make clear its anger at being jilted for its archrival. Pyongyang’s military today threatened more missile tests.
Xi’s choice to meet with South Korean President Park Geun-hye over North Korean leader Kim Jong Un upends the practice since Beijing and Seoul forged diplomatic ties in 1992 of Chinese presidents choosing to make Pyongyang rather than Seoul their first destination on the Korean Peninsula.
Shipload of weapons headed to open sea
Gioia Tauro, Italy – A United States cargo vessel loaded with hundreds of tons of Syria’s chemical weapons left an Italian port Wednesday to destroy the arms at sea as part of the international effort to rid Syria of its chemical weapon stockpile.
The MV Cape Ray steamed out of the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro after a 12-hour operation to transfer the chemicals from a Danish ship, the Ark Futura.
It is expected to head into the open sea, where it will neutralize the chemicals – including mustard gas and the raw materials for sarin nerve gas – with special machinery outfitted in its cargo hold.
The resulting waste will be disposed of on land in dumps equipped to handle hazardous materials. U.S. officials say no vapor or water runoff will be released into the atmosphere or the sea as a result of the process.
Khat-loaded airplane hits building at takeoff
Nairobi, Kenya – Four people were killed when a cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff at the international airport in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, a police official said Wednesday.
The Fokker 50 aircraft transporting the mild stimulant known as khat to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, crashed into a commercial building after taking off from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport early Wednesday, said Joseph Ngisa, the airport’s head of police investigations.
Preliminary investigations found the plane was flying low after takeoff and might have hit an electrical pole before crashing in the Embakasi area of the city.
No one on the ground was harmed, and the four bodies of those in the plane were recovered, Ngisa said.