Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Putin Hails N. Korea's Support for Ukraine War Ahead of Pyongyang Visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP)
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Putin Hails N. Korea's Support for Ukraine War Ahead of Pyongyang Visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday hailed North Korea for "firmly supporting" Moscow's war in Ukraine ahead of a visit to Pyongyang set to boost defense ties between the two nuclear-armed countries.
Putin is scheduled to touch down on Tuesday night for his first trip to the isolated nation in 24 years, with a confrontation between North and South Korean troops on their shared border highlighting regional security tensions, AFP said.
Moscow and Pyongyang have been allies since North Korea's founding after World War II, and they have drawn even closer since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 led to the West isolating Putin internationally.
The United States and its allies have accused North Korea of supplying Russia with much-needed arms, including ballistic missiles to use in Ukraine.
The North has denied giving Russia military hardware but, ahead of his trip, Putin thanked Kim Jong Un's government for helping the war effort.
"We highly appreciate that the DPRK (North Korea) is firmly supporting the special military operations of Russia being conducted in Ukraine," Putin wrote in an article published by Pyongyang's state media on Tuesday.
Russia and the North are "now actively developing the many-sided partnership," Putin wrote.
The trip will elevate ties to a "higher level" the Russian leader wrote, adding it would help develop "equal cooperation" between the two allies.
Both countries are under rafts on UN sanctions -- Pyongyang since 2006 over banned nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.
Putin praised the North for "defending their interests very effectively despite the US economic pressure, provocation, blackmail and military threats that have lasted for decades."
He also hailed Moscow and Pyongyang for "maintaining the common line and stand at the UN."
- US concern -
North Korea has described allegations of supplying weapons to Russia as "absurd".
However it did thank Russia for using its UN veto in March to effectively end monitoring of sanctions violations, just as UN experts were starting to probe alleged arms transfers.
The United States voiced "concern" on Monday about the trip because of the security implications for South Korea as well as Ukraine.
The two Koreas have remained technically at war since their 1950-53, and the border dividing them is one of the most heavily fortified in the world.
"We know North Korean ballistic missiles are still being used to hit Ukrainian targets (and) there could be some reciprocity here that could affect security on the Korean peninsula," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporter.
Highlighting those security concerns, South Korea said its troops fired at soldiers from the North who briefly crossed the border on Tuesday then retreated.
The South's military said it believed the North Korean soldiers accidentally crossed as they were fortifying the border, but said some of them were injured after detonating landmines.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Germany Bans Group Accused of Iran Links and Hezbollah Support, Carries Out Raids 

24 July 2024, Hamburg: Police officers stand in front of the Islamic Center Hamburg with the Imam Ali Mosque (Blue Mosque) on the Outer Alster during a raid. (dpa)
24 July 2024, Hamburg: Police officers stand in front of the Islamic Center Hamburg with the Imam Ali Mosque (Blue Mosque) on the Outer Alster during a raid. (dpa)
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Germany Bans Group Accused of Iran Links and Hezbollah Support, Carries Out Raids 

24 July 2024, Hamburg: Police officers stand in front of the Islamic Center Hamburg with the Imam Ali Mosque (Blue Mosque) on the Outer Alster during a raid. (dpa)
24 July 2024, Hamburg: Police officers stand in front of the Islamic Center Hamburg with the Imam Ali Mosque (Blue Mosque) on the Outer Alster during a raid. (dpa)

The German government on Wednesday banned a Hamburg-based organization accused of promoting the Iranian leadership's ideology and supporting Lebanon's Hezbollah armed group, as police raided 53 properties around the country.

The ban on the Islamic Center Hamburg, or IZH, and its various suborganizations elsewhere in Germany followed searches in November. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said material gathered in the investigation “confirmed the serious suspicions to such a degree that we ordered the ban today.”

The IZH promotes an “extremist, totalitarian ideology in Germany,” while it and its sub-organizations “also support the terrorists of Hezbollah and spread aggressive antisemitism,” Faeser said in a statement.

Her ministry alleged that “as the direct representative of Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’” and seeks to export the Iranian revolution to Germany.

The group, which runs a mosque in Hamburg, has long been under observation by Germany's domestic intelligence agency. The IZH said last fall that it “condemns every form of violence and extremism and has always advocated peace, tolerance and interreligious dialogue.”

The Interior Ministry said that because of the ban, four Shiite mosques in Germany will be closed. The IZH's assets are also being confiscated.