North Korean firms in China ordered to close

The ministry said the companies, including joint ventures with Chinese firms, have 120 days to close from the date the United Nations resolution was adopted, September 11.

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The announcement comes days after China confirmed that it will apply another major part of the sanctions: a limit on exports of refined petroleum products to North Korea starting October 1 and a ban on textiles from its neighbour.

China’s application of UN sanctions is particularly biting for North Korea. Beijing is Pyongyang’s main ally and trading partner, responsible for around 90 percent of the hermit nation’s commerce.

The United States has pressed China to use its economic leverage to strongarm North Korea into giving up its nuclear ambitions.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Beijing this weekend for talks with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Tillerson will discuss the North Korean nuclear tensions, trade issues and President Donald Trump’s planned trip to China in November, the US State Department said.

Trump’s tour will also take in regional allies Japan and South Korea.

‘Abyss of misery’ 

Washington has alternated between criticising and praising Beijing’s role in the North Korea crisis, on the one hand welcoming its support for new sanctions but also insisting it must do more to rein in its unruly neighbour.

For its part, China has called on both Trump and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un to tone down their increasingly bellicose rhetoric and instead try to begin peace talks.

0:00 Probablility of war between US and NKorea highest in three years: experts Share Probablility of war between US and NKorea highest in three years: experts

“We are opposed to any war on the Korean peninsula, and the international community will never allow a war (which would) plunge people into an abyss of misery,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing.

“Sanctions and the promoting of talks are both the requirements of the UN Security Council. We should not overemphasise one aspect while ignoring the other,” Lu said.

While China has imposed sanctions on its renegade neighbour, it wants to avoid precipitating the regime’s downfall over fears that its collapse could send an influx of refugees across its border and place the US army at its doorstep.

But Beijing appears to be running out of patience with North Korea’s nuclear antics — the last test earlier this month triggered an earthquake that was felt in northeast China.

Branches of China’s biggest banks have told AFP that they have suspended financial transactions for North Koreans, a measure that is not required under UN sanctions.

Australian jihadist Prakash, on trial in Turkey, ‘regrets joining IS’

Neil Prakash, who was detained one year ago inside Turkey close to the Syrian border, is jailed in the Gaziantep region of southern Turkey.

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However, his trial, which got under way earlier this year, is being held in the neighbouring Kilis region with Prakash being cross-examined via video link.

In his testimony, Prakash said he said received training from IS in their de-facto capital of Raqqa in Syria before moving north to the town of Kobane to fight Kurdish militia.

He was wounded in the fighting and then requested to be moved to another area where he did not have to fight.

“But I went to Raqqa and was told I had to fight,” he said, quoted by the Turkish-language Dogan news agency. “I was also made to speak in propaganda videos.

“I decided to escape after seeing the true face” of IS, he added. “I very much regret joining the organisation,” he said.

Prakash denied being the Australian “representative” of IS in Syria and asked to be released and deported to a Muslim country and not Australia. However the court decided to keep him in custody, Dogan news agency said.

The trial was adjourned to an unspecified later date.

Australia last year had asked Turkey to extradite Prakash, who Canberra previously had reported as having been killed in a US airstrike in northern Iraq.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called Prakash the senior Australian operative in IS. He was reportedly on a list of high-value IS recruiters targeted by the US in drone attacks in Iraq.

Prakash told the court he had spent his early life in Cambodia in a Buddhist family but had decided to become a Muslim after watching IS videos.

Turkey had been under fire from its allies for not taking a hard enough line against jihadists on its territory but stepped up arrests from 2015 after a string of terror attacks.

Man poisons supermarket food in Germany

A man has slipped a potentially lethal poison into food, including baby food, on sale in some German supermarkets in an extortion scheme aimed at raising millions of euros, police say.

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No cases of poisoning had been reported so far.

Police say the alleged perpetrator had alerted them by email after placing quantities of poison in products for sale in some southern German supermarkets earlier in September, and was now threatening to do so nationwide and elsewhere in Europe unless given a pay-off of many millions.

“We are taking the threat very seriously,” Uwe Stuermer, deputy chief of police in the southern lakeside city of Konstanz, told a news conference on Thursday.

“There is no reason for panic or hysteria,” he added, while warning consumers to be on the look-out for packaging that had been tampered with when buying their groceries.

Police were looking for a suspect who could be seen in security video footage from one of the supermarkets in a town near Konstanz and appeared to be a man of about 50 years old.

The footage was made public to help in the search.

Police said they had found some baby food spiked with ethylene glycol, a colourless, odourless liquid used in the manufacture of antifreeze, which can be deadly if consumed.

Authorities in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said they would intensify checks of food on sale, but warned that identifying contaminated items would be a challenge.

“The case is difficult because the blackmailer did not say which food will be targeted or what poison he will use,” a consumer protection official said.