This image from television shows the demolition of the 18-metre-tall cooling tower at its main reactor complex in Yongbyon, North Korea.
This image from television shows the demolition of the 18-metre-tall cooling tower at its main reactor complex in Yongbyon, North Korea.

New North Korea nuclear talks planned



SEOUL // Five regional powers will hold talks with North Korea from Thursday on ending its atomic weapons plans and verifying an account the secretive state gave in June of its nuclear programmes, officials said today. The talks, the first in nine months, come after Washington responded to the North's declaration of its nuclear assets by starting to take it off a terrorism blacklist. But Washington also called on Pyongyang to answer lingering questions on proliferation and uranium enrichment.

"We look forward to positive results from this heads of delegation meeting," the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said when making the announcement for the talks. Hosted by China, they also include the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and the United States. This round of talks is provisionally scheduled to last for three days, Mr Qin said. The South Korean envoy Kim Sook, who had released the date of the talks ahead of China's announcement, told reporters one key issue will be setting a verification mechanism to check claims North Korea made about its murky nuclear weapons programme.

Analysts said North Korea may sign off on an inspection programme but will delay further disarmament steps for as long as possible to squeeze out concessions. "North Korea has no reason to reveal everything it's got," said Park Young-ho, an analyst at the South's Korea Institute for National Unification. "Nuclear armaments are not only North Korea's 'card' to play strategically at the negotiating table, but they are also a tool for Kim Jong-il to stay in power."

The Yonhap news agency reported that the North Korean nuclear envoy Kim Kye-gwan had arrived in Beijing today. In late June, the North presented a long-delayed account of its nuclear weapons programme that contained information on its plutonium production, but did little to address US suspicions of a secret uranium enrichment programme. North Korea, which tested a nuclear device in October 2006, was required in a disarmament-for-aid deal to make the declaration and start taking apart its Soviet-era nuclear plant at Yongbyon by the end of 2007.

It had completed most of the disablement steps by the end of last year. On June 27, in a symbolic move to show its commitment to the deal, the reclusive state invited in media to witness a controlled blast that brought down the cooling tower at its ageing nuclear reactor. In return for these steps, the energy-starved North has received heavy fuel oil aid. Once it is removed from the US terrorism list, the communist state will see an end to sanctions that have mostly cut it off from international banking.

The declaration, however, did not address the North's nuclear weaponry and facilities other than Yongbyon, which may cloud the next round of talks in Beijing. "The US and other players are expecting North Korea to declare and disable other facilities," said Kim Sung-han, a Korea University international relations professor. And there may even be problems with what it did declare because according to reports in Japanese media, the North said it produced about 30 kgs of plutonium while US officials have said they think it is closer to 50 kgs.

*Reuters

if you go

The flights

Air Astana flies direct from Dubai to Almaty from Dh2,440 per person return, and to Astana (via Almaty) from Dh2,930 return, both including taxes.

The hotels

Rooms at the Ritz-Carlton Almaty cost from Dh1,944 per night including taxes; and in Astana the new Ritz-Carlton Astana (www.marriott) costs from Dh1,325; alternatively, the new St Regis Astana costs from Dh1,458 per night including taxes.

When to visit

March-May and September-November

Visas

Citizens of many countries, including the UAE do not need a visa to enter Kazakhstan for up to 30 days. Contact the nearest Kazakhstan embassy or consulate.

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

Scoreline

Real Madrid 1
Ronaldo (53')

Atletico Madrid 1
Griezmann (57')

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

The specs: Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Price, base: Dh1,731,672

Engine: 6.5-litre V12

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 770hp @ 8,500rpm

Torque: 720Nm @ 6,750rpm

Fuel economy: 19.6L / 100km

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Rating: 4/5 

Things Heard & Seen

Directed by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton

2/5

CREW

Director: Rajesh A Krishnan

Starring: Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon

Rating: 3.5/5

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Honeymoonish

Director: Elie El Samaan

Starring: Nour Al Ghandour, Mahmoud Boushahri

Rating: 3/5

Name: Peter Dicce

Title: Assistant dean of students and director of athletics

Favourite sport: soccer

Favourite team: Bayern Munich

Favourite player: Franz Beckenbauer

Favourite activity in Abu Dhabi: scuba diving in the Northern Emirates 

 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5


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