PN's Voice 129

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 129, 08.03.2018
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PN's Voice No. 129,  08. 03. 2018 
Small steps, Road to peace

Moon: N. Korea Trip Marks Big Step toward Peace, but Obstacles Ahead

President Moon Jae-in says South Korean envoys' trip to North Korea marked a big step toward peace and denuclearization, but there are many obstacles to overcome. Referring to the outcome of the delegation's trip, the president said the achievement was made possible by talks between the two Koreas as well as strong support from the U.S.

Moon said that South Korea still faces many obstacles to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and establish lasting peace, but it would lay the foundation for peace and prosperity through cooperation with the international community and dialogue with North Korea. 
Source : KBS News

North Korean leader to visit South for first time

Kim Jong-un will become the first North Korean leader to cross the border and visit the South since the Korean War broke out in 1950, as Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to hold a summit in April on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom. It was also announced that a hotline will be established between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in - and the two leaders will have their first conversation before the summit. The April meeting will be the third summit between the two Koreas. South Korean Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun met with Kim’s late father, Kim Jong-il, in June 2000 and October 2007. Both summits took place in Pyongyang. 

The North Korean leader’s decision to cross the inter-Korean border is seen as an attempt to promulgate a confident image. When North Korea’s media reported about the special envoys’ visit earlier this week, they said Kim had made an “audacious” decision. It may also be an attempt to differentiate himself from his late father. Although two inter-Korean summits were held in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-il never visited Seoul in return.

The summit in April will take place during Korea-U.S. joint military exercises. The two countries delayed their annual joint exercises until after the Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Seoul and Washington are planning to start the Foal Eagle exercise on April 1 and Key Resolve exercise on April 23. “A summit in April means that inter-Korean relations will keep up their momentum despite the exercises,” said President Moon’s senior advisor.
Source : JoongAng Daily

NK Open to Denuclearization says Seoul

North Korea is willing to discuss relinquishing its nuclear weapons and will freeze its nuclear and missile programmes if it begins direct talks with the US, in a dramatic easing of tensions after a visit by senior South Korean politicians, officials said on Tuesday. “The North side clearly affirmed its commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and said it would have no reason to possess nuclear weapons should the safety of its regime be guaranteed and military threats against North Korea removed,” a South Korean presidential spokesman said.

Donald Trump responded to the news by tweeting: “Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the US is ready to go hard in either direction!” The vice-president, Mike Pence, who attended the recent Winter Olympics in South Korea, issued a more cautious statement: “Whichever direction talks with North Korea go, we will be firm in our resolve…All options are on the table and our posture toward the regime will not change until we see credible, verifiable, and concrete steps toward denuclearization.”
Source : The Guardian

Moon's Security Adviser to visit U.S. with Message from N. Korea

Chung Eui-yong, President Moon Jae-in's top security adviser, will head to the United States this week, to brief U.S. officials on the outcome of his recent trip to North Korea that he earlier said included an undisclosed message from Pyongyang. The scheduled trip follows Chung's two-day visit to Pyongyang that ended Tuesday, during which he and four other special envoys of Moon held unprecedented talks and a dinner with the North's reclusive leader, Kim Jong-un. Moon's envoys included Suh Hoon, head of Seoul's top spy agency, the National Intelligence Service. Suh will be accompanying the security adviser on his U.S. trip, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

Their trip to Pyongyang ended with what many experts here have called "exceptional" and unprecedented concessions from North Korea. In a press conference held Tuesday, Chung said the North Korean leader clearly expressed his country's willingness to talk with Washington, while quoting Kim as saying the North is also willing to put the denuclearization issue on the dialogue table with the U.S. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he believes the North was "sincere." From the start, Chung said the main objective of his trip to the North was to persuade the North to talk with the U.S. 
Source : BBC News

S. Korea - U.S. Start Negotiations on Military Cost-Sharing

South Korea and the US have kicked off discussions for what will likely be lengthy negotiations on cost-sharing for the upkeep of some 28,500 American troops stationed here, the foreign ministry said Thursday. South Korea has shared U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) upkeep costs since 1991 under the so-called Special Measures Agreement (SMA). The current accord signed in 2014 is set to expire at the end of this year. Seoul's contribution has increased to around 960 billion won ($887.5 million) this year from some 150 billion won in 1991. The U.S. has asked for Seoul to shoulder more. The outcome of the cost-sharing negotiation is subject to parliamentary ratification.
Source : Yonhap News


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PN's Voice

Small steps, Road to peace


Two Koreas to March under United Korea Flag at Olympics

North and South Korea have agreed to march together under a single "unified Korea" flag at next month's Winter Olympics in PyeongChang next month. They also agreed to field a joint women's ice hockey team in rare talks at the truce village of Panmunjom. These announcements are the result of the first high-level talks between the countries in more than two years. It marks a thaw in relations that began in the new year when North Korea offered to send a team to the games.

If the plans are realized, a hundreds-strong North Korean delegation - including 230 cheerleaders, 140 orchestral musicians and 30 taekwondo athletes - could cross into the South via the land border to attend the Winter Olympics; this will be the first opening of the cross border road in almost two years. The proposed joint womens ice hockey team would represent the first time athletes from both Koreas have competed together in the same team at an Olympic Games.

The agreement will have to be approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday, because North Korea has missed registration deadlines or failed to qualify. South Korea will also need to find ways to host the North Korean delegation without violating any existing UN Security Council sanctions which ban cash transfers to Pyongyang and blacklisting certain senior North officials.

Source: BBC

US S. Korea Confirm Theyre Still on the Same Page

South Korea and the United States confirmed on Thursday that there will be no break in the rotational deployment of high-profile U.S. defence assets to and around the Korean Peninsula. The announcement came after the surprise olive branch offered by North Korea that led to the first inter-Korean talks for 2 years. Resultingly, the North now plans to participate in the PyeongChang Olympics next month.

Concerns had grown that the North's sudden peace offensive could lead to Seoul and Washington butting heads over selecting the correct course of action for dealing with Pyongyang. However, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense confirmed that "In today's meeting, the U.S. side reaffirmed its firm security commitment to the defense of South Korea using all categories of its military capabilities." The two countries have "agreed to continue the rotational deployment of U.S. strategic assets to South Korea and nearby areas as long as North Korea's nuclear and missile threats persist," it added. For South Korean officials and media, U.S. strategic assets usually mean aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines, strategic bombers and stealth fighter jets.

This announcement has been seen by some observers as an attempt to quell fears that Pyongyang is attempting to utilize peace talks as a strategy to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

Source: Yonhap News

South Korea Vows to Continue NK Talks with Clear Eyes

South Korea has said it plans to continue high-level talks with North Korea with "clear eyes" amid global warnings that Pyongyang might be playing for time to continue its nuclear-arms programme. "We have to make the most" of the opportunity said South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha during an interview with the BBC.

The recent talks and announcements about a joint Korean team at the upcoming Olympics come as the US and its allies vowed to keep pressure on the North. On Wednesday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the recent North Korean suggestion for talks showed that sanctions were "really starting to hurt", expressing confidence that the pressure would eventually force the North to the negotiating table over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. Tillersons thoughts were mirrored by his Japanese counterpart, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who said the world should not be blinded by Pyongyang's recent "charm offensive". "It is not the time to ease pressure or to reward North Korea," Mr Kono said. "The fact that North Korea is engaging in dialogue could be interpreted as proof that the sanctions are working."

However, Ms. Kang affirmed that South Korea knew what it was doing in relation to its neighbour; "I think we understand North Korea better than anybody, having dealt with North Korea for decades, having had series of discussions off and on. We haven't had any significant engagement in the recent past - but this is an opportunityYou can have all kinds of theories of why there are here (at the talks). There are, obviously, calculations going on the part of the North Korea decision-makers as to their actions. But in the end we have to make the most of it.


Source: BBC News


Essay Moons Chance to Shine

Please click the link below to access the recent essay by Peace Network researcher Olly Terry on the prospects of President Moon Jae-in taking the opportunity given to him by Pyongyangs rapprochement into significant long-term progress on inter-Korean relations:

Link: Moon's Chance to Shine





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