‘She Smelled Expensive’, Excited Osaka Says After Meeting Beyonce

Tennis player Naomi Osaka of Japan poses for photos after a sightseeing ride in a helicopter at the Queensland Tennis Centre in Brisbane on January 2, 2020, ahead of the Brisbane International tennis tournament starting on January 6. SAEED KHAN / AFP


Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka has revealed her excitement at meeting her idol Beyonce, saying the US singer “smelled expensive” and gave her a morale-boosting pep talk at a low point last year.

The two-time Grand Slam champion, who will be defending her Australian Open title this month, bumped into Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z while still “depressed” after losing in the fourth round at the US Open.

“I met Beyonce and Jay-Z during the off-season. She just smelled expensive and beautiful and she was soft and she hugged me,” Osaka told the WTA website. “I was like, this is what heaven is.”

The meeting came in the aftermath of Osaka’s defeat at Flushing Meadow to Belinda Bencic, which ended her first Grand Slam title defence.

“She was talking to me and she said she was proud of me. I thought, wow, that actually was a really important moment,” said the 22-year-old, who stunned Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final.

“I felt really depressed after I lost my match, but I’m thinking about the impact that tennis players — I don’t think we know, I don’t think we’re aware of all the good that we can do.

“That was kind of an eye-opening thing. Even though it was one of my worst points, to lose — I wanted to be a defending champion and I lost early — there’s still something really good that came out of that.

“There are some things that I have to remember are out of my control, especially past events. So I just have to put myself in a position to not regret anything.”

Osaka hired a new coach in the off-season, Wim Fissette, having split with Jermaine Jenkins following the US Open, and said she was raring to go after her 2019 season was abruptly cut short by injury at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

She is set to play her first match of the year at the Brisbane International against Maria Sakkari on Tuesday.

“I just feel like for me having positive energy and having a clean mental slate is really important, so that’s what I did this entire off-season,” she said.

“I mean, I trained, but I wasn’t super pressed on anything. That’s just something I had to learn throughout the entire year.

“I feel like 2019 had so many trials and errors and all in all it felt like a very long year, but now that I’m here it feels very compact. It’s learning about myself more.”


North Korea: Trump, Moon To Meet In April


US President Donald Trump will host his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in next month, Seoul said Friday, after the latest summit between Washington and Pyongyang ended in deadlock.

Moon has long backed a policy of engagement with nuclear-armed, sanctions-hit Pyongyang and was instrumental in brokering talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But the failure of Kim and Trump to reach an agreement in Hanoi on curtailing Pyongyang’s nuclear programme in exchange for relaxation of sanctions has raised questions over the future of the process.

Moon will visit Washington on April 11, the South’s presidential Blue House said. Its spokesman had earlier told AFP it would be a two-day trip.

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“The two leaders will have in-depth talks… to coordinate their stance on setting up a peace regime on the Korean peninsula through complete denuclearisation,” Yoon Do-han, the senior presidential press secretary said Friday.

The White House confirmed the visit and the planned talks on North Korea.

“The alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea remains the linchpin of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the region,” the White House press secretary said in a statement, using the official name of South Korea.

In Seoul, Moon has been under heavy criticism from the country’s right-wing politicians for his dovish approach following the no-deal outcome from Hanoi, with one lawmaker accusing him of acting as the “top spokesman” for Kim Jong Un.

Moon had been pushing for the resumption of South Korean tourism to the North’s Mount Kumgang and operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where Southern firms used to be staffed by Northern workers.

But his plan to unveil details of such projects on March 1, right after the Hanoi summit, was scrapped as Kim and Trump failed to reach a deal.

In Washington, the Hanoi outcome paradoxically brought Trump praise within his Republican Party — some members had privately fretted he was too eager to seal a deal.

Pyongyang last week abruptly pulled its staff out of an inter-Korean liaison office, but the officials came back to the joint facility in the Northern city of Kaesong days later.

Their return came after Trump announced he had “ordered” the withdrawal of additional sanctions — without identifying the measures — against Pyongyang by the US Treasury.


PHOTOS: Buhari Meets With Service Chiefs In Abuja


President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday held a security meeting in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The Commander-in-Chief was briefed on the recent developments in view of the security challenges in parts of the country.

In attendance at the meeting are the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin.

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Others were the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

Sudanese Lawmakers Postpone Meeting On President Bashir Term Limits

President Omar Al-Bashir


A Sudanese parliamentary committee has postponed a meeting on amending the country’s constitution to allow President Omar al-Bashir to run for a new term, state media reported Saturday.

The session, set for Sunday, has been shelved for the time being, the official SUNA news agency said, without giving a new date.

Bashir, who is facing deadly nationwide protests against his three-decade rule, is considering running for a third term in elections scheduled for next year.

But for that to happen, lawmakers must amend the country’s constitution, which currently allows presidents two five-year terms.

“The committee’s meeting has been postponed and a new date will be announced,” SUNA reported.

Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and its allies have an overwhelming majority in parliament, and in August the party named the veteran leader as its candidate for the 2020 poll.

READ ALSO: Egyptian Parliament Votes To Extend El-Sisi Presidency

The parliamentary committee was formed in late 2018 to consider the constitutional amendments necessary to keep Bashir in power, and it was set to meet Sunday for the first time.

Bashir, 75, swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, but he faced his first multi-party election in 2010.

In 2015, he took 94 per cent of the vote in the face of opposition boycotts. He later said he would not run for a third term.

Rights groups have said both elections lacked credibility.

Bashir has proved to be a political survivor, facing down both domestic and international challenges over the years, but since December 19 he has faced daily nationwide rallies against his rule.

Analysts say the ongoing protest movement is the biggest threat Bashir has faced since coming to power, with demonstrators calling for his resignation.

Protesters chanting “freedom, peace, justice,” have taken to the streets daily, blaming Bashir for the country’s dire economic conditions.

Officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence so far, while Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 51.

Bashir has remained defiant, saying the ballot box is the only route through which a government can be changed.


Osinbajo To Attend Africa, Europe Heads Of Govt Meeting In Austria

Vice President YemiOsinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would join other African and European leaders for a meeting in Vienna, the Austrian capital holding on Monday, December 17 and Tuesday, December 18.

In a statement on Monday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, the Vice President is expected to deliver a talk during the Africa-Europe High-Level Forum with other African and European Heads of States or Government.

Speaking on the forum’s theme ‘Taking cooperation to the digital age,’ Osinbajo would promote innovation and digitalisation for the benefit of participants.

The forum aims at assessing “how current partnerships between Africa and Europe contribute to this goal, complementing the ongoing implementation of the joint declaration of the 2017 Abidjan Summit between the African Union and the European Union.”

The African and European leaders would also highlight the “importance of unlocking the potential of the digital economy for Africa and Europe. It also aims at contributing to the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs.”

The Vice President would also use the opportunity of his trip to hold a town-hall meeting with the Nigerian community in Austria.

He is also expected to attend several bilateral meetings with European government leaders, including the Prime Minister of Czech Republic, Andrej Babis; Prime Minister of Finland, H.E. Juha Petri Sipilä; the Federal Chancellor of Austria, His Excellency, Sebastian Kurz; and the UK Minister for Africa, Harriet Baldwin.

Before his expected return to the country on Tuesday, Osinbajo would also meet with top officials of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

US, Canada Meet Amid Standoff With China

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (3rd L) and US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis (2nd L), hold a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (3rd R) and Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan (2nd R) at the State Department in Washington, DC, December 14, 2018. SAUL LOEB / AFP


The United States and Canada met Friday for high-level talks amid a showdown with China, which has voiced fury over the arrest of an executive in Vancouver on a US request.

The meeting comes as Canada looks like collateral damage in the US-China rift, with Beijing detaining two Canadians yet still moving forward with the United States on easing trade tensions.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened the previously scheduled dialogue in Washington with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland alongside US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Canadian counterpart Harjit Sajjan.

China has demanded the release of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecoms behemoth Huawei whom Washington wants to be extradited for allegedly violating US sanctions on Iran.

Pompeo is seeking to squeeze Iran’s economy over the Islamic republic’s involvement around the Middle East and has vowed to press all countries, friend or rival, to join.

Canada complied with the request from its giant neighbor to arrest Meng, who was changing planes in Vancouver, despite worries of repercussions.

The fears turned out to be well-founded as China has detained two Canadians on suspicion of “harm to national security” — a phrase often used by Beijing when alleging espionage.

The Canadians were Michael Spavor, a China-based consultant who arranges visits for foreigners including NBA star Dennis Rodman to North Korea, and Michael Kovrig, a Mandarin-speaking former Canadian diplomat who works for the International Crisis Group, a think tank that looks for peaceful solutions to global conflicts.

Freeland has said that Canada is working to ascertain the two citizens’ whereabouts and is raising their cases with Chinese authorities. Meng is out on bail of Can$10 million (US$7.5 million).

 Movement on US-China trade 

Even as China is seen as punishing Canada, it has appeared to pull its punches with the United States and moved ahead with a trade truce negotiated by President Donald Trump.

China said Friday it would suspend extra tariffs on US-made cars and auto parts for three months from January 1 — freezing a measure taken in retaliation to tariffs imposed by Trump.

Meng’s arrest came on the very day that Trump was meeting with his Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a summit in Buenos Aires to find a way out of months of trade tensions.

In an agreement hailed by Trump as “amazing,” he agreed to hold off on a new round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports that were set to go into effect with the new year.

Instead, the world’s two largest economies set up talks to address US trade concerns, particularly what US officials say is China’s rampant theft of US technology to prop up its own firms.

The additional auto tariffs were one of the retaliatory measures taken by China and were sure to gain the attention of Trump, who has put a major focus on manufacturing.

Canada has also been on the receiving end of Trump’s unorthodox approach on trade. In June, Trump publicly criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “very dishonest and weak” for his statements on tariffs as the Canadian leader hosted a Group of Seven summit in Quebec.

The two countries have also found their own truce, recently signing a rebranded version of the North American Free Trade Agreement along with Mexico at Trump’s insistence.

Trump, Putin To Meet In France


Vladimir Putin will speak “briefly” with Donald Trump when the two presidents meet in Paris this weekend for World War I centenary events, an advisor for the Russian leader said Wednesday.

“It has been agreed that the leaders of the US and Russia will talk only briefly in Paris, it will be a standing meeting,” foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov said, Russian news agencies reported.

The prospect of a full meeting between Putin and Trump had prompted huge international media interest, the advisor said, adding that the French organisers had expressed concern this could overshadow the commemorations.

The pair were set for a more detailed discussion during the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of the month, to be confirmed after Paris, Ushakov said.

Trump said Monday he did not expect to hold talks with Putin during the November 11 events, which 60 heads of state and government are expected to attend.

Expectations have been growing for a new Trump-Putin meeting as tensions pile up over the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and US sanctions against Moscow.

Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton indicated during a trip to Moscow in October that the White House wanted a Paris meeting and Putin said he was interested.

A first bilateral summit between the two leaders took place in Helsinki in July, after which Trump came under strong domestic criticism for adopting a distinctly conciliatory tone despite his own security services’ warning that Russia meddled in US elections.


Trump Hopeful Of Another Meeting With Putin

US President Donald Trump (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands before attending a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018.  Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP


US President Donald Trump said Thursday he was looking forward to a “second meeting” with Russia’s Vladimir Putin after what he called the “great success” of their summit in Helsinki.

“The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media,” tweeted Trump, who has come under fire at home for what many saw as his unsettling embrace of the strongman Russian leader.

“I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed,” he added.


Nasarawa Govt Holds ‘Expanded’ Security Meeting

Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa state on Thursday conveyed a security meeting at the Government House in Lafia, the state capital.

The meeting comes amid the official ban on open grazing by Benue state Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom which took effect on Wednesday.

The meeting had in attendance security chiefs serving in the state.

See pictures below.







FG Holds Another Meeting With Striking Health Workers

The Federal Government is currently holding another conciliatory meeting with striking health workers.

This second conciliatory meeting is holding after the first meeting which was held on September 27, ended in deadlock.

The meeting is chaired by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige. Ngige and his Ministry of Health-counterpart, Professor Isaac Adewole, are said to be absent at the meeting today. They are represented by the Minister of State for Labour and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.

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The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) is currently on strike, demanding among other issues, that the government pay earned salary arrears of their members


APC Public Consultation Meeting Ends In Rowdy Session

Bayelsa APC Gets Acting Chairman

The All Progressives Congress (APC) zonal public consultation meeting on Federalism which was held in Akure, Ondo State capital on Wednesday ended in a rowdy session.

The meeting became rowdy when it was disrupted by some hoodlums who stormed the venue and attacked some members of the party.

Osun State Commissioner for regional integration, Honourable Bola Ilori, who is an indigene of Ondo State was allegedly attacked by a group of young men, when he came out of the main auditorium to grant media interview, thereby leading to a temporary disruption of the programme.

READ ALSO: True Federalism: APC Begins Consultation In South-South


The meeting which was held at the International Culture and Events Centre, Akure had in attendance representatives from the host Ondo state, Ekiti and Osun State including the Vice Chairman of APC, South West Zone, Pius Akinyelure; Ondo Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi; SSG, Ifedayo Abegunde;  traditional rulers and other top government functionaries.

However, the meeting turned to a rowdy session due to the attack, leading to interruption of the event. It took the intervention of security operatives to calm the situation and the programme brought to an end.

Jonathan Meets With PDP Leaders, Ministers


President Goodluck Jonathan has held a special meeting with his cabinet members, the National Working Committee members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the leadership of the National Assembly to make strategic decisions ahead of Nigeria’s 2015 general election. 

The meeting, which was held at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday, began immediately after the Federal Executive Council meeting.

The Vice President, chairman of the PDP and all the PDP executive, Senate President, Secretary to the Federal Government and all the Federal Ministers were all present at the meeting.

At the end of the meeting that lasted for over four hours, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Olisa Metu, said it was important that the PDP should begin to strategize on how to publicize the achievements of the Goodluck Jonathan administration under the Transformation Agenda ahead of the 2015 general elections.

Mr Metu said that to gain the confidence of Nigerians, the PDP must ensure that the unity of the country and the ideals of the administration were upheld.

There were also indications that the meeting was held to also persuade the ministers, who have intentions to vie for elections in 2015, to resign so that the government can start looking for alternatives for them.

State governors that were at the meeting were; Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, Liyel Imoke of Cross Rivers, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina, and Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe.