31 Jul 2019

Wednesday's world news: What's making the headlines

9:03 pm on 31 July 2019

North Korea fires more ballistic missiles

North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles only days after it launched two similar missiles intended to pressure South Korea and the United States to stop upcoming military drills.

The South Korea military say the latest launches were from the Wonsan area on North Korea's east coast, the same area from where missiles were fired last week.

A man watches a television news screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on 31 July, 2019.

A man watches a television news screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch, at a railway station in Seoul on 31 July, 2019. Photo: AFP / Jung Yeon-je

The ballistic missiles flew about 250km and appeared to be similar to those launched last week.

"North Korea's actions do not help ease military tensions, nor do they help keep the momentum for talks that are under way," South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told reporters. She urged North Korea to halt the missile launches.

There was no immediate comment from the US administration, other than to say the missiles were not a threat to the US.

Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both played down last week's launches, and Mr Pompeo has continued to express hope for a diplomatic way forward with North Korea.

- Reuters

Read more:

  • North Korea fires multiple unidentified projectiles - South Korean military
  • UN Security Council demands Syria investigation

    Two-thirds of the United Nations Security Council - including the United States, Britain and France - have asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to investigate attacks on UN-supported medical facilities in northwest Syria.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, backed by Russia, began an offensive on the last major insurgent stronghold three months ago that the United Nations says has killed at least 450 civilians and displaced more than 440,000 people.

    The Security Council has been deadlocked on Syria with Russia and China - two of the body's five veto powers along with Britain, France and the United States - shielding Mr Assad's government from any action during eight years of war.

    Britain, France, the United States, Germany, Belgium, Peru, Poland, Kuwait, Dominican Republic and Indonesia delivered a demarche - a formal diplomatic petition - to Mr Guterres over the lack of an inquiry into attacks on UN-supported facilities.

    "At least fourteen UN-supported facilities on the list of deconflicted facilities have been damaged or destroyed in northwest Syria since the end of April," they told Mr Guterres, according to the agreed request seen by Reuters.

    "We therefore respectfully request that you consider launching an internal UN investigation into attacks that have damaged or destroyed UN-supported facilities in northwest Syria and report back promptly," they said.

    They noted that in 2016 former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had used his discretionary power to open an inquiry into an attack on a Syrian Arab Red Crescent humanitarian convoy in Aleppo.

    Mr Guterres' spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed representatives of 10 member states had met with the secretary-general.

    "We will consider their request," Mr Haq said.

    - Reuters

    Boris Johnson goes to Stormont

    Boris Johnson has arrived in Northern Ireland for his first time as UK prime minister, promising to do everything in his power to help efforts to restore the government there.

    Britain's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives back at 10 Downing Street in London on July 24, 2019.

    Photo: AFP

    Northern Ireland has been without a power-sharing government for the last two years, and Mr Johnson will join talks with all political party leaders about reviving the assembly at Stormont.

    Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union in 2006 when the rest of Britain voted to leave. A Northern Irish political party, the Democratic Unionists (DUP), props up the minority government of Mr Johnson's Conservative Party.

    Mr Johnson's office said he would call for Northern Ireland's suspended power-sharing executive, a critical part of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement that ended 30 years of conflict, to be restored as soon as possible.

    The power-sharing administration was suspended two-and-a-half years ago because of differences between the parties representing mainly Protestant pro-British unionists and mainly Catholic nationalists who favor a united Ireland.

    "The people of Northern Ireland have now been without an executive and assembly for two years and six months - put simply this is much, much too long," said Mr Johnson, who will meet the leaders of the province's five major parties.

    "Northern Ireland's citizens need and deserve the executive to get up and running again as soon as possible, so that locally-accountable politicians can take decisions on the issues that really matter to local people."

    - Reuters

    Democrat Candidates in another televised debate

    In a televised US debate, a clash between 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls has laid bare the party's deep divisions over how best to win in 2020.

    Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the most liberal candidates in the crowded field, came under attack from their more moderate colleagues.

    The three women and seven men on stage in Michigan debated healthcare, border policy and how to defeat Donald Trump.

    Another 10 more Democrats, including Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, will debate on Wednesday.

    The winner of the Democratic presidential nomination will be announced next July at the party convention. The presidential election will take place months later, in November.

    - BBC

    Read more:

  • US election 2020: Do front-runners win their party's nomination?
  • Wife of Dubai's ruler seeks protection order

    The estranged wife of the ruler of Dubai - one of the most high-profile leaders in the Middle East - has asked for a forced marriage protection order in a UK court.

    Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum of UAE and his wife, Princess Haya of Jordan.

    Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum of UAE and his wife, Princess Haya of Jordan. Photo: AFP

    Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum's wife, Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, is the third female member of his court to apparently try to run away.

    The princess, who was born in Jordan and educated at private schools in Britain, is an Olympic equestrian and the half-sister of the current Jordanian ruler, King Abdullah II.

    She married Sheikh Mohammed in 2004, becoming his sixth and "junior" wife. The 70-year-old sheikh, who is the billionaire owner of Godolphin horse racing stables, reportedly has 23 children by different wives.

    This month she was reported to be in hiding in London and is said to be in fear for her life.

    Princess Haya asked for wardship of her children - with whom she left the United Arab Emirates - as well as a forced marriage protection order and a non-molestation order.

    Sheikh Mohammed meanwhile applied for the return of his children to Dubai, and also applied for the court to impose reporting restrictions on details about the orders - a request the judge rejected.

    Sir Andrew McFarlane ruled there was "a public interest in the public understanding, in very broad terms, proceedings that are before the court".

    When asked about the court proceedings, an official at the London embassy of the United Arab Emirates said: "The UAE government does not intend to comment on allegations about individuals' private lives."

    Representatives of the sheikh did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Dubai government media office declined to comment on "a private matter that is being resolved in the court".

    - BBC / Reuters

    Read more:

  • Princess Haya: Dubai ruler's wife seeks marriage protection order