PN's Voice 61

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PN's Voice 61, 19-11-2015
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PN's Voice No. 61  19. 11. 2015 
Small steps, Road to peace

U.N. spokesman: Discussions Ongoing about Ban's trip to N. Korea

Discussions are under way about U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's willingness to play a constructive role on the Korean Peninsula situation, "including traveling there," his spokesman said on Wednesday. The remark by U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric was seen as a de-facto acknowledgment that talks are under way to set up what would be Ban's first visit to North Korea, though the spokesman did not elaborate on those "discussions." Dujarric, however, dismissed Xinhua news agency's report that Ban is scheduled to visit the North next week.

Yonhap News Agency first reported earlier this week that Ban is planning to visit Pyongyang for a possible meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, that was followed by reports by China’s Xinhua on Tuesday saying that Ban will arrive in the capital city next Monday and stay there for around four days. A high-level U.N. source told Yonhap it is true that Ban is seeking to visit North Korea, and multiple "dates" are currently being discussed. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also denied speculation that opposition from some U.N. member states may be affecting Ban's trip, stressing that it's purely a matter of coordinating schedules.

Should Ban's trip be realized, he will be the third U.N. secretary-general to visit North Korea after Kurt Waldheim in 1979 and Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993. Both Waldheim and Boutros-Ghali met with North Korea's founding leader, Kim Il-sung, during their visits to Pyongyang.

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, has repeatedly said that he will do everything possible to promote inter-Korean reconciliation and a resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. In May, Ban planned to visit the North Korean border city of Kaesong, where South Korea runs an industrial complex, but the trip was called off at the last minute because Pyongyang abruptly withdrew its invitation for no clear reason.
Source : Yonhap News


S. Korea to Develop Unmanned Sensors for DMZ Surveillance

The South Korean military has signed a contract to develop unmanned surveillance sensors aimed at strengthening surveillance capabilities in the DMZ and the surrounding area. While the development of these sensors would help to ensure the safety of troops stationed near the DMZ, a military expert said that such an effort must be undertaken in parallel with efforts to lower tensions with North Korea. Hanwha Thales, a domestic defense manufacturer, has signed a 3.6 billion-won ($3.1-million) contract to help in the development of these sensors with South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

A DAPA representative told NK News that the sensors will greatly improve South Korea’s capacity to detect North Korean troops attempting to infiltrate and potentially endanger South Korean lives. However, the sensors will not be able to detect mines buried underground, currently a concern after two South Korean soldiers lost their legs in August; “Unfortunately these sensors will not be able to detect mines buried in the ground,” said the official. “But we will be able to track the movement of infiltrators and prevent any of their offensive attempts against our troops. The sensors will help to make sure that our service members are not exposed to similar dangers.”

A DAPA representative told NK News that the sensors will greatly improve South Korea’s capacity to detect North Korean troops attempting to infiltrate and potentially endanger South Korean lives. However, the sensors will not be able to detect mines buried underground, currently a concern after two South Korean soldiers lost their legs in August; “Unfortunately these sensors will not be able to detect mines buried in the ground,” said the official. “But we will be able to track the movement of infiltrators and prevent any of their offensive attempts against our troops. The sensors will help to make sure that our service members are not exposed to similar dangers.”

It’s thought that the new sensors system will take at least 4 years to get ready for deployment.
Source : NK News


Update on Comfort Women Situation

North Korea has joined the South in urging Japan to come to a resolution over the so-called comfort women situation. As many as 200,000 women, mostly from Korea and China, were forced into the Japanese Army’s brothels during World War II. Earlier this month, the President Park and Prime Minister Abe agreed to accelerate talks over the issue during the first summit meeting in more than three years. North Korea has added its voice to the argument saying that Korean victims of wartime sexual crimes include Koreans from both sides of the now divided peninsula. Pyongyang has claimed compensation from Tokyo for the aggression in the past, but the latest move comes at a delicate time. North Korea is facing growing criticism for its human rights record.

Last week, Japan and the European Union circulated a draft U.N. resolution that calls for tougher measures against North Korea for human rights abuses. Japan has been actively involved in the U.N. efforts to condemn human rights violations in North Korea, sponsoring resolutions, over a decade. Yang Moo-jin, a professor of University of North Korea Studies in Seoul, said North Korea's focus on the comfort women issue appears to be an attempt to counter the Japanese efforts on Pyongyang’s human rights conditions. Alternatively, Nam Gwang-gyu, a professor at Korea University, who specializes in Asia, said Pyongyang might be trying to use the diplomatic row between Seoul and Tokyo to press Seoul; “North Korea can blame South Korea for any unsatisfactory results from future talks between South Korea and Japan over the comfort women issue,” said Nam.

Meanwhile, a Tokyo official says resolving the conflict surrounding Japan's wartime sex slavery depends on whether solutions would be acceptable to the surviving victims. The Japan All Solidarity Network for the Settlement of the Comfort Women Issue on Wednesday cited an official from the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau as making the remark. The civic group said the official's remark shows that the Japanese government now recognizes that the consent of the Korean victims to any solution is a key condition for resolving the issue.
Source : KBS News, VOA News



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