PN's Voice 56

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 56, 01-09-2015
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PN's Voice No. 56  01. 09. 2015 
Small steps, Road to peace

SK-US Top Diplomats Discuss Ways to Deal with N. Korea

The South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-Se had a bilateral meeting with his U.S. counterpart John Kerry on the sidelines of the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic on Monday. At the first foreign ministerial meeting between the two sides since high-level talks between the two Koreas last month, the two top diplomats are said to have reaffirmed their joint efforts to deal with North Korea, and coordinated the agenda for the Seoul-Washington summit in October.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has described South Korea as a "superb partner" before a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-S. Kerry and Yun addressed the escalation of tension on the Korean Peninsula following the North Korean land mine explosions, the recent high-level inter-Korean talks, and possible changes in South-North relations in the future. The two top diplomats also discussed President Park Geun-Hye’s upcoming visit to Washington and possible topics for the South Korea-U.S. summit in October. Those who attended the meeting said Kerry expressed his understanding over Park's decision to attend Beijing's Victory Day celebration and military parade. The two counterparts also agreed that it is important for China to play a constructive role in building peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.
Source : KBS News, Yonhap News

US-ROK Predict Increased Likelihood of N. Korean Provocation

Japanese media has reported that the South Korean Vice Minister of National Defense Baek Seung-Joo as saying that despite the recent agreement between the two Koreas, the North may launch a military provocation to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers' Party next month.

In an interview with Kyodo News on Monday, Baek said that since the inter-Korea deal has been reached, there is an increased chance that the North may engage in a strategic provocation such as firing a long-distance ballistic missile or launching a nuclear test in October. Baek attributed the increased threat to the many assessments that the North lost face with the recent agreement. He added that if there is another military provocation, South Korea will make the North pay by not only resuming military loudspeaker broadcasts, but through all means possible. The vice defense minister said strengthening military and security cooperation between South Korea and Japan should be preceded by expanding political trust between the two sides.

Baek’s anticipation of North Korean provocation was mirrored by US expert Ken Gause. Gause, a senior analyst on Korea at CNA Corp., argued in a recently released paper titled "North Korea's provocations and escalation calculus" that the dynamics of Pyongyang's decision-making on provocations have not changed dramatically since Kim Jong-Un took power.”

Gause went on to predict that whether the North will conduct a missile or nuclear test in the near future will depend on how the inter-Korean negotiations go. Gause also suggested that whether the North will be able to win economic assistance from the South is expected to determine whether the Kim Jong-Un regime would resort again to provocations: "If North Korea sees the possibility of economic aid without having to put its nuclear program squarely on the table, it will likely forego provocations. If not, then we are likely in store for more bad behavior."
Source : The Korea Herald, KBS News

Park-Xi Summit to Focus on N. Korea

The leaders of South Korea and China are set to discuss ways to curb North Korea‘s nuclear ambitions and boost peace in Northeast Asia at a bilateral summit planned for Wednesday amid tension abating on the Korean Peninsula after breakthrough talks last week.

President Park Geun-Hye will leave for China for a three-day trip to attend a celebration to mark the end of World War II, but she will hold a summit with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping as soon as she arrives in Beijing, Park’s senior foreign affairs secretary Ju Chul-Ki said on Monday. It will be their sixth summit since she entered the office in early 2013. “The leaders will intensively discuss ways to bolster the bilateral relationship, and also on the Korean Peninsula and regional security,” said Ju at a press briefing. Park‘s trip is expected to highlight her efforts to address North Korea’s evolving nuclear threat and secure a delicate balance amid the intensifying rivalry between Beijing and Washington. Ju also expressed hopes for Beijing to play a bigger role in the future on resolving North Korea’s nuclear ambition and on achieving a peaceful unification of the two Koreas.

On September 3rd, China plans to commemorate the 70th anniversary of its victory, widely seen as a showcase of its growing military strength and its attempt to highlight Japan’s surrender in the war. Many Western leaders, however, remain reluctant, with concerns of the event further stoking Beijing’s rivalry with Japan. Park is the only leader of a U.S.-allied country to make an official announcement to attend the Beijing ceremony. Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe said he would skip the event, citing domestic obligations, which has placed Park in an awkward position and highlighted Japan’s alliance with China’s rival, the U.S.
Source : The Korea Herald

Koreas to Discuss Ways of Holding Regular Separated Family Reunions

The Unification Ministry said on Monday that next week South and North Korea plan to discuss ways to hold reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War on a regular basis. In a landmark deal, the two Koreas agreed last week to resume the much-anticipated reunions of separated families on the occasion of Korea's fall harvest holiday slated for September. "The main agenda will focus on the preparation for the upcoming event, but also how to regularize the family reunions will be dealt with," Jeong Joon-Hee, ministry spokesman, said in a regular press briefing. Jeong said that the government plans to do its best to hold the event as early as possible near the Chuseok holiday which falls on September 27th, given the aspirations of families in the South to meet their family members in the North.

The issue of the family reunions is the most emotional and pressing humanitarian matter as most of the surviving family members are aged over 70. The ministry said that the number of South Koreans who have applied for family reunions reached some 129,000 as of end-December in 2014. Of those applicants, a total 68,264 people are alive while the remainder have passed away. Since the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, the two Koreas have held 19 rounds of face-to-face family reunion events so far, including the last one held in February 2014.
Source : Yonhap News, Yonhap News, The Hankyoreh

Seiler Expected to Step Down as Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks

Sydney Seiler, U.S. special envoy for the six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program, is expected to step down from the State Department position, a diplomatic source said last Sunday. Seiler, who took the job a year ago, is expected to return to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the source said, adding that Seiler has been in the State Department as a loan from the DNI and such a status cannot last more than a year.

A fluent Korean speaker, Seiler is considered one of the top Korea specialists in the administration of President Barack Obama. As special envoy, Seiler coordinated U.S. efforts on denuclearization of North Korea through the six-party talks framework and led day-to-day engagements with other members of the negotiations.

The six-party talks have been stalled since the last session in late 2008. North Korea has called for the unconditional resumption of negotiations, but the U.S. and South Korea have demanded that the communist nation first take concrete steps demonstrating its commitment to denuclearization.
Source : Yonhap News

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