PN's Voice 60

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PN's Voice 60, 12-11-2015
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PN's Voice No. 60  12. 11. 2015 
Small steps, Road to peace

Sung Kim: Six-Party Talks Worth Pursuing

Sung Kim, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy, recently announced that he believes the six-party talks, which have been on ice since 2008, are worth pursuing. Kim reasoned that North Korea has expressed a will for nuclear disarmament more clearly in the multilateral talks than through any other forms of negotiation.

At the Korea Global Forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Kim said the United States would be happy to meet with North Korea "anytime, anywhere" if the North is ready to talk about giving up its nuclear program. However, Kim added that the U.S. has seen no signs of willingness from Pyongyang to hold such meaningful negotiations.

Ambassador Kim also said the U.S. offer to hold exploratory talks with the North is still valid; "The idea that we would be willing to sit down with the North Koreans to test their commitment, test, reaffirm their commitment to denuclearization, I think, is still valid. Unfortunately, the North Koreans have shown no interest in such dialogue," he said. "We have no qualms about sitting down with the North Koreans to talk about denuclearization and how we can work together ... toward some meaningful negotiations that result in concrete, irreversible denuclearization steps. So I think that idea is still valid, but it's up to the North Koreans and so far they've shown no interest," he said.

The nuclear envoy's remark came amid lingering questions about the efficiency of the talks as the U.S. is resisting their resumption as part of its strategic patience policy toward the North. Asked about the North’s claim that the current armistice between the two Koreas should be swapped with a peace treaty, Kim reiterated Washington’s pessimistic view saying there should be significant progress in the North’s nuclear disarmament for the change to happen. He urged the North to more actively take part in the negotiations for its denuclearization, saying all the other members of the six-party talks, except for the North, are pursuing meaningful negotiations that would lead to concrete, irreversible denuclearization steps.
Source : KBS News, Yonhap News

N. Korean Nukes Seemingly Not High on China’s Agenda

Former U.S. officials say China does not appear to be placing a high priority on resolving disputes over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, which if true could complicate Washington's efforts to resolve the issue. The warning comes as Pyongyang seems to continue enhancing its nuclear capabilities while negotiations with the Pyongyang have remained deadlocked since 2008.

Stapleton Roy, who served as the U.S. ambassador to China from 1991 to 1995, said Beijing appears to be increasingly frustrated with North Korea’s unwillingness to engage in serious negotiations. Roy recently visited Beijing and met with officials and scholars there as part of a National Committee on American Foreign Policy delegation. “The North Korean nuclear issue didn’t seem to have that high priority in our discussions in China,” said Roy at an event in Washington Monday. “My sense was that was because the Chinese share our own frustration at not knowing how to engage with the North Koreans on this issue. Every approach that might open the door to significant discussions on denuclearization has been closed by Kim Jong Un,” the former envoy added.

Evans Revere, former principal deputy assistant secretary of state, who also participated in the talks with the Chinese, said officials in Beijing do not appear to expect any significant progress on the nuclear issue in the near future. “There was not much expectation on the part of the Chinese with whom we met that there will be a breakthrough on the nuclear issue with North Korea anytime soon,” said Revere. Revere said China appears to be focusing on “stability” on the Korean peninsula over denuclearization, after realizing that the current standoff over the North Korean nuclear issue will not end soon.
Source : Voice of America

N. Korea-China Trade in Decline Amid Icy Ties

Trade between North Korea and China has gone down in the first half, data showed Wednesday, due mainly to the weakening diplomatic ties between the two allies. North Korea's exports to China reached US$1.17 billion in the January-June period, down 10.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korea International Trade Association.

Falling global prices of raw materials hurt the North's exports as well, the association said. The North's imports of Chinese goods also plunged 15.8 percent over the cited period to $1.33 billion. North Korea's investment in China came to $290,000 in 2014, falling sharply from $2.68 million posted in 2013. Beijing's investment in North Korea also halved to $59.1 million in 2014 from the $109.4 million in 2012, it added, indicating that the economic exchanges between the two have lost steam over the past years. The number of North Koreans visiting China reached 184,000 in 2014, down 10.7 percent on-year. In the first half of 2015, the number edged down 2.3 percent from the previous year.

"It marked a rare case of trade, investment and personnel exchanges declining for the second consecutive year despite Pyongyang's heavy dependency on China for its economy," the association said. "The future of the North Korean economy lies on how quickly it revitalizes capital and goods exchanges with China." The two countries' relations have been strained following the North's nuclear test in early 2013 and missile tests. China has been calling on North Korea to comply with U.N. resolutions banning the North's nuclear and missile tests.
Source : Yonhap News

Half of S. Koreans Reluctant to see NK Relatives

About half of elderly South Koreans who may have relatives living in North Korea do not want to see them again for various reasons, according to data from the Ministry of Unification. Speaking at a forum in Seoul, Tuesday, Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said only 30,000 of some 66,000 war-divided South Koreans wanted to find out whether their relatives in the North are still alive. Hong said that many, contacted by the government, said they do not want to find their relatives in the North.

It is believed that the 33,000 war-separated South Koreans are concerned that the North's repressive regime may put their loved ones under surveillance if such inter-Korean family relations are revealed. "We've been told that Pyongyang has kept an eye on those who joined the inter-Korean family gatherings," a unification ministry official said on condition of anonymity. A similar view was echoed by Kang Myung-do, a former North Korean defector who was also son-in-law of a former North Korean prime minister. "Pyongyang lacks a filing system to verify the fate of the war-divided family members in the North and some of them are even registered as deceased," he said. "In that regard, it can be embarrassing for the North when the South requests a search for those people. I've been told the Pyongyang authorities picked on those attending the inter-Korean family reunions and harassed them for no reason."

A total of 20 rounds of inter-Korean family reunions have taken place since June 2000 under the approval of both Koreas. The most recent one was held from Oct. 20 to 26 where over 900 long-lost family members from both Koreas met at a resort on Mount Geumgang, North Korea.

The 33,000 people include those who were separated from spouses and children by the Korean War. Most of them have re-married and started families in the South. Many are worried that their North Korean relatives will be disappointed about them re-marrying if they reunited, the unification ministry official said.
Source : The Korea Times

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