PN's Voice 55

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PN's Voice 55, 28-08-2015
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PN's Voice No. 55  28. 08. 2015 
Small steps, Road to peace

Two Koreas Reduce Military Tensions

South and North Korea honored their agreement at high-level talks this week by respectively ending loudspeaker broadcasts and calling off a “quasi-state of war” as of noon on August 25th. The measures were the first taken by the two sides to reduce military tensions that had been spiraling toward crisis in recent weeks. “North Korea called off the ‘quasi-state of war’ order it had issued to its military as of noon, and South Korea halted its loudspeaker broadcasts to North Korea at the same time,” said a Ministry of National Defense official.

The lifting of the quasi-state of war comes five days after the decision to declare it at an extended meeting of the Workers’ Party of Korea central military committee on August 20th, and two weeks after a landmine explosion at the DMZ prompted South Korea to resume loudspeakers broadcasts of propaganda messages to the North on August 10th. The last broadcast on August 25th included an announcement of the agreement reached at the high-level talks and the message, “The quasi-state of war has now been lifted.” While the military did halt its broadcasts, it reportedly has no plans to disassemble the loudspeakers used for them. North Korean submarines that had begun maneuvers around the time of the talks were also observed returning to their bases after the agreement. South Korea is currently planning to maintain its highest alert posture, which it is to step down as it observes the North Korean military’s actions.
Source : Hankyoreh

Inter-Korean Family Reunion Expected in October

South Korea is still reviewing whether to propose a date for talks on a family reunion to North Korea or wait for Pyongyang's offer, a government official said Thursday. "We are reviewing the timing and related content," the Unification Ministry official said. A priority is to implement the agreement reached at the high-level negotiations between the two Koreas earlier this week, he added.

The two sides agreed to hold a Red Cross working-level meeting in early September to arrange the reunion of families separated by the Korea War on the occasion of the Chuseok holiday in September. Many expect, however, the reunion event won't be held before early October, given the time needed for preparations, including the selection of participants. Holding such an event "on the occasion" of Chuseok does not necessarily mean "before or during" the holiday, which is a major celebration of the harvest in both Koreas, officials said. "What's important is to abide by the agreed-upon schedule," another ministry official said. "A working-level Red Cross meeting needs to be held before September 10. We are focusing efforts on that."

South Korea's Red Cross has begun working to confirm the fate of more than 66,000 separated family members formally known to be alive in the South. A total of 129,698 people are registered in the government's data system and half of them are reported to have died. The two Koreas have held 19 rounds of face-to-face family reunion events so far, including the last one in early 2014. Around 2,200 South Koreans, mostly in their 70s, 80s and 90s, met their relatives in the North.
Source : Yonhap News

S. Korea Dismisses Criticism Over Park's Plan to Join China's Military Parade

President Park Geun-hye took into account the characteristics of China's upcoming World War II anniversary event in deciding to join it, the Foreign Ministry announced yesterday. Park plans to attend a massive military parade in Beijing next week as the neighboring country commemorates the "Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War." Her decision was apparently based on her resolve to maintain good ties between South Korea and China amid regional security challenges from North Korea.

Some critics, however, have taken issue with the history of Chinese troops fighting alongside the North in the 1950-53 Korean War. In the ministry's press briefing here in Seoul, a Japanese reporter asked a question about such a view."Basically, we need to look at the characteristics of the event itself to mark the 70th anniversary of a war victory," ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il said. "The feature and meaning of the ceremony to commemorate a war victory 70 years ago is important." It's also an "international event" to be attended by dozens of other heads of state, he added. Whilst Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Africa's President Jacob Zuma will be in attendance, U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rejected China's invitation. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is sending one of his top aides, Choe Ryong-Hae, who serves as a Workers' Party secretary. On the possibility of Park's formal meeting with Choe in Beijing this time, the ministry official was skeptical. "Choe's position does not match" that of Park, he said.
Source : Yonhap News

S. Korea Not Considering Summit with N. Korea Yet

South and North Korea have yet to create the appropriate conditions for another round of summit talks, Seoul's point man on Pyongyang said on Thursday. Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo made clear that it's premature to consider holding an inter-Korean summit anytime soon despite the recent breakthrough deal between the two sides. "For now, there is nothing considered with regard to a summit," he said at a National Assembly session. Hong was a member of the so-called two-plus-two negotiations also involving President Park Geun-hye's top security advisor Kim Kwan-jin. Their North Korean counterparts at the rare talks were Hwang Pyong-so, chief military official on political affairs, and Kim Yang-gon, in charge of Pyongyang's daily inter-Korean affairs.

After four-day marathon talks, they produced a six-point agreement Tuesday to avert an armed clash. The two sides agreed to hold additional government-level talks aimed at improving bilateral ties, although a related schedule has not yet been set. Hong called on the North to take "responsible measures" for its 2010 deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean warship. It is a precondition for Seoul to ease or lift a set of tough economic sanctions on Pyongyang, known as the May 24th Measures, he stressed.
Source : Yonhap News

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