US, EU Locked in Trade Stalemate

The United States and its European Union allies were locked in a trade stalemate on Saturday after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to budge on demands for concessions.

In his opening salvo at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Mnuchin urged China and the EU to respect “free, fair and reciprocal trade” amid talk of an escalating global trade conflict, but his French counterpart fired back that the US must “return to reason.”

Mnuchin was inflexible in his approach to the EU following a series of tit-for-tat measures that began with US President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

“My message is pretty clear, it’s the same message the president delivered at the G7: if Europe believes in free trade, we’re ready to sign a free trade agreement with no tariffs, no non-tariff barriers and no subsidies. It has to be all three,” said Mnuchin.

– US must ‘de-escalate’ –
That brought a firm response from French finance and economy minister Bruno Le Maire at the G20 meeting, which brings together finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s 20 leading economies.

“We refuse to negotiate with a gun to the head,” he said.

“It must be the US that takes the first step to de-escalate.”

He said he expected “a change of attitude” from Trump, otherwise “there will be no choice other than to retaliate.”

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde opened the summit by reiterating her fears that increasing trade restrictions would hurt global GDP.

Lagarde said that taking into account “current announced and in process measures,” an IMF simulation indicates that in a worst-case scenario, a half point would be cut from global GDP, amounting to some $430 billion.

But Mnuchin showed no signs of a US willingness to back down.

Asked about Trump’s threat to hammer China with punitive tariffs on the entirety of the $500 billion in goods it exports to the US, Mnuchin said: “It is definitely a realistic possibility, so I wouldn’t minimize the possibility.”

He added: “We share a desire to have a more balanced relationship and the balanced relationship is by us selling more goods (to China).”

Mnuchin said China must “open up their markets so we can compete fairly,” although he insisted that to do so would be “a tremendous opportunity for us and a tremendous opportunity for China.”

The brewing global trade conflict was always expected to dominate talks in the Argentine capital and Brazilian finance minister Eduardo Guardia said many delegates had spoken of “threats on the economic horizon” that “impact on economies, particularly emerging ones.”

“Global trade cannot be based on survival of the fittest,” Le Maire told AFP.

– Argentine economy stabilizing –

Small protests against the IMF were staged in central Buenos Aires both on the eve of the summit and on Saturday, with locals angered by a 35 percent plunge in the peso between April and June.

Demonstrators call on Argentina to default on its International Monetary Fund debt on the sidelines of a G20 summit
Argentina secured a $50 billion IMF loan in June to stabilize its economy as investor confidence in crisis-hit emerging economies sunk, with some $14 billion taken out between May and June.

“The Central Bank of Argentina has put in place measures that helped reduce financial volatility and improve transparency,” said Lagarde.

Growth in the country would “stabilize in the last quarter of 2018” with a “gradual recovery in 2019 and 2020,” she added.

– Fed’s independence guaranteed –

Away from trade, Mnuchin moved to ease fears in the US that Trump would “jeopardize” Federal Reserve independence after he blasted the Fed’s interest rate hikes in a television interview aired on Thursday.

“The president has made it very clear to me that he supports the Fed’s independence,” said Mnuchin.

Sanctions were another issue on the agenda, with Mnuchin insisting North Korea would not benefit from “relief until real progress is made” on denuclearization.

While he acknowledged the US and EU “don’t see eye to eye” on Iranian sanctions, he insisted they were agreed that “Iran should never have nuclear weapons.”

And he said sanctions on Venezuela were meant to “encourage better behavior” from President Nicolas Maduro’s government and insisted it was “a reasonable guess” that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his allies would face penalties next.

Crypto currencies were another topic Mnuchin wanted to broach with counterparts “to make sure the G20 has proper rules and regulations so that this does not become a source and means for illicit activities.”

He said: “Combatting terrorist financing is obviously a critical focus of the US Treasury and the Trump administration. We want to make sure crypto assets are not a source of that.”

(AFP)

Blood Traces Reveal Notorious Thieves Behind French Heist after 15 Years

They believed they were safe but a few blood drops betrayed them: 15 years after a daring robbery at a French jewellery store, the four alleged perpetrators have been found — in Serbia.

The Belfort job had all the hallmarks of a “Pink Panther” operation, the modus operandi used by an international jewel thief network of Serbs and Montenegrins responsible for some of the most audacious robberies of the past two decades.

Between 1999 and 2015, these criminals are thought to have carried out at least 380 armed robberies, targeting high-end jewellery stores and snatching 334 million euros ($391 million) worth of loot, Interpol says.

One morning in September 2003, a group of masked men burst into a jewellery shop in Belfort, a town in eastern France just 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the Swiss border.

One pulled a handgun, while the others smashed open the glass cases, snatching 350,000 euros worth of jewellery and watches before fleeing — all within the space of a minute.

Police later managed to arrest their Serbian fences, one of whom had a stolen watch on his wrist.

But the thieves themselves were never caught.

Nor were they identified until 2013 following progress in a forensic investigation into traces of blood on one of the glass cabinets, on a cupboard and on a Cartier box.

By analysing the DNA, they identified two Serb nationals who were unknown in France but wanted in Austria: “Zica” and “Boka”, both of them 41 years old.

And by crosschecking their phone records, they also found the other two suspected of involvement in the robbery: “Sasa”, 37, and “Luka”, 48.

– ‘Cult of the criminal’ –

All four come from Uzice, a once prosperous industrial town some 150 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of Belgrade which has since fallen on hard times.

“Most of these criminals originate from Nis, Cacak and Uzice,” the town’s prosecutor Ljubisa Dragasevic told AFP, explaining that many in this western region end up turning to crime due to problems making ends meet.

But there is also “the cult of the criminal within society, the tough guys”, he said.

“In such circles, these activities overseas are a matter of prestige. They… see themselves as defenders of poor Serb victims of the West,” the prosecutor said.

Even though they have been identified, the four remain out of reach for the French justice system because Serbia does not extradite its citizens.

Over the past decade, France and Serbia developed close judicial ties following the 2009 murder of a French football fan in Belgrade, prompting a French judge to demand that the four be summoned to a hearing before a Serbia prosecutor.

– Funding a luxury lifestyle –

At the hearing in November, all four denied involvement in the robbery.

If they were in Belfort at the time, they were there for “techno music parties”, one claimed. Another said they were there “to buy second-hand cars”.

Boka had just been jailed over a fatal car accident, while shortly after the November hearing, Zica and Sasa began serving five years for stealing watches worth almost 950,000 euros from a Hamburg jeweller in 2014.

Several of them are also suspected of involvement in robberies in Switzerland and The Netherlands.

Such audacious robberies fund a lavish lifestyle back home, Dragasevic says, explaining that their takings are quickly spent “in bars and restaurants, taking cocaine, paying for prostitutes… buying luxury cars and expensive clothes” and often at expensive tourist sites.

“Such a lifestyle requires a lot of money, which they spend quickly and then return to their criminal activities,” he added.

– Statute of limitations expiring –

Their activities are not just limited to hitting jewellery stores, with one Serb investigator saying they also link up with Albanian gangs to smuggle drugs to the West.

The money is also used for loansharking, financing younger criminals, or investing in property, bars and restaurants, he said.

But they never stage robberies on home territory, their “refuge”.

With extradition out of the question, if France wants a trial to be held in Serbia over Belfort, as happened with the Hamburg heist, the justice system will need to transfer the case to Belgrade.

That would have to happen quickly, however, as the 15-year statute of limitations expires on September 19.

“Everything should be done quickly so we can prosecute the criminals,” Serbia’s deputy prosecutor Gordana Janicijevic told AFP.

If found guilty, the perpetrators could face up to 15 years behind bars.

Otherwise, French prosecutors will have to fall back on a conviction in absentia and the issuing of an international arrest warrant — which would mean the four thieves could no longer leave Serbia without risking arrest and extradition.

(AFP)

Trump’s Hush Money Video Secretly Taped

President Donald Trump was secretly taped two months before the 2016 election discussing a payment to hush up an alleged affair with a Playboy model and the FBI has the recording, bombshell reports claimed Friday.

The tape was reputedly made by his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, who is under federal investigation in New York for his business dealings and reportedly whether hush payments violated campaign finance laws.

The Republican commander-in-chief on Friday did not answer questions shouted out by reporters about the Cohen tape as he prepared to fly out of the White House en route to his New Jersey golf club.

The New York Times broke the story, saying the FBI seized the recording during a raid on Cohen’s office earlier this year, quoting lawyers and others familiar with the recording. Cohen has not yet been arrested or charged.

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal claims she had a months-long affair with Trump after they met in 2006, shortly after Trump’s wife Melania gave birth to their son Barron. She told CNN previously that he tried to pay her for sex.

The Wall Street Journal said the September 2016 conversation between Trump and Cohen was about buying the rights to McDougal’s story, which she sold a month earlier to The National Enquirer for $150,000.

The tabloid ultimately sat on it, preventing it from becoming public. The chairman of its

parent company, American Media, is a Trump friend.

Friday’s reports raise questions about why Trump’s campaign denied knowledge of the deal between McDougal and American Media when it became public, as well as fan speculation about how much damage Cohen can inflict on the president.

Trump’s current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed to the Times that the Cohen tape existed, but claimed the president had done nothing wrong.

– Stormy and McDougal –

The recording was less than two minutes and gave no indication that Trump had prior knowledge about the media payment to McDougal, Giuliani told the Times.

“It helps us, rather than hurts us,” he was quoted as saying by the Journal.

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, declined to comment Friday.

The FBI raided Cohen’s home and office in April on a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, secretly taped the president talking about a payment to a former Playboy model who says she had an affair with the real estate mogul-turned US leader
The Justice Department says Cohen has been under investigation for months for criminal conduct largely centered on his personal business dealings.

Prosecutors are apparently interested in payments he made on Trump’s behalf to porn actress Stormy Daniels, and other business dealings related to Trump.

Both Daniels and McDougal allege they had affairs with Trump around the same time, in 2006.

Cohen, who became Trump’s personal lawyer in 2007, is infamous for paying $130,000 to Daniels — real name, Stephanie Clifford — shortly before the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.

– ‘Multiple’ tapes –

Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, claimed Friday there were “multiple” tapes and urged Cohen to release all audio recordings publicly.

“All of them should be released for the benefit of the American public,” he told CNN.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” he added. “When all of this evidence ultimately comes to light and I hope that it will… this is going to spell a significant problem for Michael Cohen and a larger problem for the president.”

Cohen initially said he used his own money to pay Daniels and was not reimbursed by Trump. The US president has subsequently conceded that Cohen was paid back, despite initially denying knowledge of the payment.

Through White House officials, Trump has denied a relationship with Daniels.

In one recent interview, Cohen apparently signaled a potential willingness to cooperate with prosecutors against the Republican president.

“To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty,” Cohen told ABC News in an interview released on July 2.

After The National Enquirer sat on her story, McDougal accused American Media of misleading her into signing the contract and Cohen of intervening inappropriately. In April, the group agreed to release her from the deal.

PHOTO OF THE DAY: New York Time Magazine Shock Readers With Image

This would not be the first time New York Time magazine will publish an image putting US President Donald Trump in compromising situations, but still, readers all over the world have expressed their shock in the graphic image which neatly joined Trump and Russain President Putin together.

Time magazine on Thursday unveiled the provocative new cover which “is meant to represent this particular moment in US foreign policy, following the pair’s recent meeting in Helsinki, Finland,”.

Recall that Putin and Trump held a joint press conference after a one-on-one meeting on Monday, during which Trump disagreed with U.S. intelligence officials’ conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s statements and his refusal to confront Putin about election interference led to a backlash from Americans.

 

Trump Invites Putin

The White House has disclosed that President Donald Trump has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington for a summit in October.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders announced in a tweet that Trump instructed his National Security Adviser, John Bolton, to extend the invitation to the Russian leader.

Sanders said: “In Helsinki, @POTUS agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs.

“President Trump asked @AmbJohnBolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway.”

Sanders announced the invitation less than an hour after the Republican-led Senate effectively rebuked President Donald Trump for considering Russia’s request to question U.S. officials.

The development followed growing criticisms over the Trump’s relationship with Putin following their summit in Helsinki on Monday.

The Senate, in a resolution adopted 98-0 by senators across the aisle, called on the U.S. to refuse to make any officials available for interrogation by Putin’s government.

Shortly before the vote was scheduled to begin, Sanders issued a statement rejecting the Russian proposal.

“It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” Sanders said.

The Senate’s vote is nonbinding but it marked a rare decision by Republican leader Mitch McConnell to take up a resolution written by top Democrat Chuck Schumer undercutting the Republican president.

Russia To Resist Attempts To Expand OPCW Powers

Russia’s envoy to the organisation, Alexander Shulgin has revealed that Moscow will fight attempts to expand the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) powers by giving it the right to attribute blame for chemical weapons attacks.

“As far as I understand, by November the OPCW director-general will submit recommendations on the implementation of the decision that was adopted.

“Let’s see what recommendations will be made when they appear. But if we are talking about the imposition of attributive function, on the promotion of attributive function in the OPCW, we will resist as hard as possible,” Shulgin told Sputnik.

He said the OPCW cannot be allowed to assign blame for chemical weapons attacks as this is an encroachment on UN Security Council (UNSC) rights.

“Any attributive functions in the OPCW, delegating the Technical Secretariat functions of identifying perpetrators behind the use of chemical weapons is a direct encroachment on the UN Security Council’s prerogative.

“The decision that was made in June has a framework character … For now, it is a sketch, it is shaky.

“Even the authors of the decision do not fully understand what they are calling for. Various hypotheses are being suggested,” Shulgin said, when asked if it was possible to somehow remedy the situation.

The envoy added that 82 countries sided with the UK on the expansion decision, while 24 voted against it, but the 24 in question included India and China, which account for a large proportion of the population of the Earth.

“So there is no overwhelming majority that the British are talking about … There are many African countries [against the decision], there are Latin American countries. And I think this is not over.

“The number of our supporters will keep growing,” Shulgin said.

Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow considered the decision to enlarge the OPCW mandate illegitimate, while UK Prime Minister Theresa May lauded it as an example of efficient cooperation among EU countries.

Boko Haram Ruined Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission

The United Nations has revealed that demarcation of the Cameroon-Nigeria border and the pillar construction continued to face challenges due to insecurity in areas affected by the presence of Boko Haram.

Guterres also cited the unrest in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon as partly contributing to the challenges faced by the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission.

This is contained in a ‘Report of the Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on the activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS)’.

“Insecurity in areas affected by Boko Haram continued to hinder the activities of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission in the northernmost regions of the land boundary between the two countries.

“Social and political unrest in the English-speaking north-western and south-western regions of Cameroon raised additional security concerns.

“As a result, the demarcation of the border and the subsequent emplacement of pillars continued to be a challenge,’’ he said.

Against that background, parties to the Mixed Commission met in Lagos, Nigeria, on March 19 and March 20 to finalise the implementation of reinforced security measures for field operations.

In this regard, Guterres noted the activities of his Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who also serves as Chair of the Mixed Commission.

He said Chambas, on March 18 in Abuja and on May 15 in Yaoundé, “engaged in bilateral consultations with the heads of the Nigerian and Cameroonian delegations to work on outstanding areas of disagreement.

“Overall, the parties reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the judgment of the International Court of Justice of October 2002 and to fully demarcating the land and maritime boundaries shared by the two countries.

“My Special Representative also successfully concluded fundraising efforts to replenish a trust fund for pillar construction along the land boundary.

“Consequently, pillar emplacement is expected to resume in October 2018 at the end of the rainy season.’’

On the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers, he said UNOWAS supported the ECOWAS Commission in the development of a regional action plan on transhumance.

Guterres said the office also established an informal working group on pastoralism and conflict prevention with the participation of the UN and regional entities working on the issue.

“In Abuja, from April 24 to April 26, UNOWAS participated in a ministerial and experts meeting on conflicts between herders and farmers in West Africa, organised by the ECOWAS Commission and the Government of Nigeria.

“Relevant recommendations included the need for States to report on the implementation of the ECOWAS transhumance protocol,’’ the UN Chief said.

On Boko Haram, he said his Special Representative continued to support diplomatic, security and humanitarian responses to the terrorist organisation.

“On Feb 28, my Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel took part in the International Conference on Lake Chad, hosted by the Government of Nigeria with the support of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

“The Heads of State and Government of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, the Niger and Nigeria adopted a declaration reaffirming their commitment to increase cooperation to safeguard Lake Chad and address the socio-economic impact of climate change and instability.

“In his capacity as my High-level Representative for Nigeria, my Special Representative also held discussions with security institutions and other key stakeholders on the situation in the Lake Chad basin with a view to enhancing regional cooperation, reintegrating ex-combatants and dealing with root causes.

“Through the facilitation of my Special Representatives for West Africa and the Sahel and for Central Africa, the governors of territories bordering Lake Chad met for the first time in Maiduguri, Nigeria on May 8 and May 9.

“They established the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum to enhance joint efforts towards building peace and fostering sustainable development across the Lake Chad basin.

Guterres said governance and development efforts must continue to be accompanied by a robust security response.

He commended the efforts of the countries participating in the Multinational Joint Task Force and encouraged strengthened partnership among the affected countries and with regional organisations, including the African Union.

“I congratulate the Government of Nigeria for conducting trials of Boko Haram suspects and urge the acceleration of the reintegration of victims and other categories of individuals associated with extremist groups in all affected countries.

“I encourage national authorities to provide critical humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities.

“In addition, I reiterate my call on the international community to increase political, humanitarian, logistical and financial assistance to the affected countries, the Lake Chad Basin Commission, the Joint Force of the G-5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Task Force, and to advance the disbursement of pledged funds.’’

Eritrean Troops Withdraws From Ethiopia Border

Eritrea has pulled its troops back from the heavily militarized border with Ethiopia.

According to the reports on its Facebook page, the move was to be a “gesture of reconciliation” with its giant neighbor and long-time foe, the pro-government Eritrean Press agency

“It is imperative for all those who care about the long-term stability and economic viability of the region to do everything they can to help the two countries move beyond the senseless war that wrought so much suffering on both people,” the agency said.

The Eritrean–Ethiopian border conflict was a violent standoff between Eritrea and Ethiopia as part of the violence in the Horn of Africa.

This included sporadic clashes of their militaries, some of which took part in the larger Second Afar Insurgency.

The border conflict had been ongoing since the Eritrean–Ethiopian War of 1998 to 2000, and included multiple clashes with numerous casualties, such as the 2016 Tserona clashes.

Ethiopia eventually stated in 2018 that it would cede Badme to Eritrea, which effectively ended the twenty-year conflict.

The two countries formally ended the conflict at the 2018 Eritrea–Ethiopia summit on 9 July 2018, by signing a joint agreement to resume peaceful diplomatic relations.

Eritrea achieved independence from Ethiopia in 1993, following a long armed struggle.

The two countries fought again between 1998 and 2000 over the disputed territory of Badme, costing an estimated 70,000 to 80,000 lives.

Also on Thursday, Ethiopia appointed its first ambassador to Eritrea in two decades in the latest sign of rapprochement after a border war, the state-affiliated Fana news agency said.

An online report from Fana said Redwan Hussien, formerly Ethiopian ambassador to Ireland, had become Addis Ababa’s representative in Asmara.

Since signing an agreement in Asmara on July 9 to restore ties, Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders have moved swiftly to sweep away two decades of hostility since conflict erupted between the two neighbours in the Horn of Africa in 1998.

The rapprochement was triggered by the coming into office of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in April who announced he wanted to implement a peace deal that ended the war.

Both leaders have visited each other and Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki this week reopened his country’s embassy in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia’s national carrier Ethiopia Airlines on Wednesday made its first flight to Asmara in two decades and was greeted by dancers waving flags and flowers as families separated by the war and the ensuing hostilities made an emotional reunion.

Man Found Guilty For Plotting To Kill Prime Minister Theresa May

A British Man, Naa’imur Rahman was found guilty on Wednesday of a plot to kill Prime Minister Theresa May.

The 20-year-old who is from north London was convicted at the Old Bailey court of preparing to commit acts of terrorism.

Rahman planned to detonate an improvised explosive device at the gates of Downing Street and gain access to May’s office in the ensuing chaos and kill her, according to police.

No.10 Downing Street is the official residence and office of British prime ministers. It is heavily guarded and there is a gate at the end of the street where members of the public and tourists gather to get a glimpse of the house.

“We are talking about an individual that would have killed, injured and maimed a number of people including police officers and members of the public,’’ said Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command.

Britain suffered four deadly attacks last year and the head of the domestic spy agency MI5 said in May that a further 12 Islamist plots had been foiled since the first of these in March 2017.

The Downing Street plot was foiled when Rahman believed he was corresponding online with members of the Islamic State (IS) militant group while planning the alleged attack but was, in fact, talking to members of undercover officers from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Britain’s MI5 Security Service.

Rahman was arrested in November 2017 shortly after meeting with undercover officers posing as IS members and collecting two dummy explosive devices.

Haydon said Rahman had been in contact with an uncle who had traveled to Syria and joined IS and who had encouraged his nephew to carry out attacks in Britain.

Rahman had been planning to carry out the attack for two years but his resolve was hardened when he heard that his uncle had been killed in a drone attack last summer, Haydon added.

Rahman was described by police as a drifter, who lived on friends’ sofas, and attempts to involve him in the government’s counter-extremism programme had failed.

Rouhani Rejected 8 Requests From Trump

The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s Chief of Staff has revealed that Rouhani has rejected eight requests for a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“When President Rowhani was at the UN General Assembly in New York in 2017, eight inquiries from [Donald] Trump for a bilateral dialogue were received,” Mahmoud Waesi told Iranian news agency ISNA.

“All were turned down, Waesi said.

Rowhani himself has so far not commented on Waesi’s statement.

Recall that on the 9th May, after years of condemning the Iran nuclear deal, Trump dealt a perhaps fatal blow to the accord, declaring it “defective at its core” and announcing his intention to withdraw from the 2015 agreement.

Specifically, the president pledged to reimpose some of the previous U.S. sanctions on Iran, the indispensable step in terminating one of the most contentious arms control agreements in recent history.

The controversy is sure to go on, with the deal’s defenders warning that Trump’s decision could lead to the collapse of U.S. relationships in Europe, spiking oil prices, or even war in the Middle East.

More likely, after all the noise dies down, there will be a new round of arms control negotiations between the United States and Iran.

Every president since the advent of the Islamic Revolution has tried diplomacy with Iran, and the Trump administration may not be different.

Another of the Iran deal’s fatal flaws was the notion that it’s possible to segregate arms control from all other areas of concern with Iran.

Thai Boys And Their Soccer Coach Rescued From A Flooded Cave Rescued

The eleven Thai soccer players and their coach who were trapped in a flooded Thai cave for more than two weeks have been discharged from the hospital.

However, they remain in the building ahead of a press conference when they will be quizzed by journalists for their first time about their ordeal. The questioning will be tightly monitored with all queries screened by psychologists beforehand to avoid causing the boys additional trauma.

‘The reason to hold this evening press conference is so media can ask them questions and after that they can go back to live their normal lives without media bothering them,’ chief government spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said.

Called ‘Sending the Wild Boars Home’ and broadcast on major television channels, the session will last for about 45 minutes, Sunsern said, adding that it would be conducted in an informal style with a moderator.