PN's Voice 118

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 118, 22.06.2017
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PN's Voice No. 118,  22. 06. 2017 
Small steps, Road to peace

Otto Warmbier: U.S. Student Detained in NK Dies

The U.S. student held in captivity for more than 15 months in North Korea has died a week after returning home. Otto Warmbier, 22, was serving 15 years hard labour, accused of attempting to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel. He was returned to the U.S. last Tuesday, with North Korea saying it was on humanitarian grounds. North Korea said he had been in a coma for a year after contracting botulism but his family say he was subjected to "awful torturous mistreatment". A team of US doctors have also disputed North Korea's version of events. The economics student from the University of Virginia had travelled to North Korea as a tourist. A month after his arrest, he appeared at a news conference tearfully confessing to trying to take a sign from his hotel as a "trophy" for a US church. Foreign detainees in North Korea have previously recanted confessions, saying they were made under pressure.

Shortly before he was freed, his parents told the Washington Post newspaper they had been informed by the North Korean authorities that their son had contracted botulism, a rare illness that causes paralysis, soon after his trial. He was given a sleeping pill and had been in a coma ever since, the newspaper said. But a team of doctors assessing him in Cincinnati said they had found "no sign of botulism". Doctors believe respiratory arrest led to his condition, which is caused by a lack of oxygen and blood in the brain.

President Donald Trump said Mr Warmbier's death had deepened his administration's resolve "to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency". "The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim," the presidential statement added. Mr. Warmbier’s death was also condemned by President Moon Jae-in and led U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to say the U.S. will be cranking up the pressure on China in dealing with North Korea.
Source : BBC News

U.S. Pressed to Pursue Deal to Freeze North Korea Missile Tests

The Trump administration has come under growing pressure to open negotiations on a temporary freeze on North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests in return for reducing the American military footprint in the Korean Peninsula, according to American officials and foreign diplomats. Versions of the proposal, floated by Beijing for several months, have been revived several times this week, first by South Korea’s newly installed president and then by China’s foreign minister and one of its top military officials in talks on Wednesday with Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. But White House officials say they are not interested in any proposal that would require the United States to lift military or economic pressure on the North, even in return for a moratorium on tests. Instead, Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Mattis publicly pressed the Chinese to exert more diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang, though President Trump indicated this week that he had just about given up on obtaining help from the Chinese.
“China understands that the United States regards North Korea as our top security threat,” Mr. Tillerson told reporters at a news conference after meetings with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, and Gen. Fang Fenghui, in the first security dialogue with Beijing conducted by the Trump administration. “We reiterated to China that they have a diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region.”

In an interview broadcast on Wednesday, the North Korean ambassador to India, Kye Chun-yong, said his country was willing to consider a moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile tests if the United States and South Korea stopped their annual joint military exercises. “Under certain circumstances, we are willing to talk in terms of freezing nuclear testing or missile testing,” Mr. Kye said. “For instance, if the American side completely stops big, large-scale military exercises temporarily or permanently, then we will also temporarily stop. Let’s talk about how to solve the Korean issue peacefully.”

But to American officials, a freeze is a trap that previous administrations have stepped into. The Clinton administration tried a freeze in 1994, which eventually fell apart. At the end of Mr. Bush’s term, a second such freeze and partial dismantlement of a nuclear reactor was negotiated, only to later be abandoned. Mr. Tillerson himself rejected the idea of such a negotiated freeze when he visited South Korea early this year, saying that it would simply enshrine “a comprehensive set of capabilities” that North Korea has already developed. However, the idea has been embraced by some Korea experts, including former Defense Secretary William J. Perry, who say that it is the only way to buy some time before North Korea successfully tests an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States. All the other options available to the United States have major drawbacks.

Without a clear alternative, the Trump administration remains committed to urging China to crack down on Pyongyang. Some 90 percent of North Korea’s trade is with China. And although China recently banned imports of North Korea coal, overall trade between the two countries has actually been increasing.
Source : The New York Times

Moon: S. K. Doesn't Accept Wartime Sex Slavery Deal with Japan

President Moon Jae-in has said South Koreans, especially victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery, do not accept a bilateral agreement on the issue worked out by his predecessor. Moon made the remark in response to a question by the Washington Post about if he plans to renegotiate the deal. In the interview published on Tuesday, Moon said that the key to resolving the issue is for Japan to take legal responsibility for its actions and to make an official apology. Still hoping to improve bilateral ties, Moon said the issue shouldn't block the advancement of Seoul-Tokyo relations.
Source : KBS News

N. Korean Delegates Claim They Were Mugged at U.S. Airport

Three North Korean men claiming to be diplomatic couriers said security officers "mugged" them at John F. Kennedy International Airport last week. U.S. Department of Homeland Security officers and airport police took a package from the men that contained a valid diplomatic courier certificate, Pyongyang's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Sunday. The report said U.S. authorities "literally mugged" the delegates and behaved like "gangsters." It called the incident "an illegal and heinous act of provocation," according to CNN.

Homeland Security said the North Koreans were not accredited members of North Korea's Mission to the United Nations and had no entitlement to diplomatic immunity. It said the package had no diplomatic protection. "The Homeland Security officers seized multiple media items and packages from the individuals, at which time the North Koreans attempted to physically retrieve the items but were prevented from doing so by the American officers," the department said. "The reported aggression was initiated by the North Koreans."

The 1961 Vienna Convention states that diplomatic couriers "shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention" and the diplomatic bags they carry may not be opened or detained. It also states that any person claiming courier status must carry accreditation and any courier bags must be marked as such.
Source : The Korea Times, The Hankyoreh

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