PN's Voice 141

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PN's Voice 141, 06.09.2018
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PN's Voice No. 141  06 09. 2018 
Small steps, Road to peace

Kim Jong-Un meets S. Korean Special Delegation

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with a special delegation of South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday, possibly reaffirming his commitment to establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula and denuclearizing his country. Chung Eui-yong who is the top security adviser to President Moon and head of the presidential National Security Council, is heading a five-member delegation that includes the head of the National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung.

The North Korea trip by Moon's special envoy is largely aimed at making arrangements for what would be a third inter-Korean summit between Moon and Kim who have already agreed to meet in Pyongyang this month. The South Korean officials, however, were also expected to work to remove an apparent stumbling block in denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea.

Denuclearization talks between the U.S. and the North seemed to reach an unprecedented level following the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in June. The talks, however, stalled after Trump called off a scheduled North Korea trip by his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing a lack of progress in North Korea's denuclearization process. However, Chung said an improvement in inter-Korean relations may even help salvage the stalled denuclearization negotiations between the U.S. and the North. 

Source: Yonhap News, New York Times

U.S. Against Train project linking Two Koreas

A rail project meant to connect North and South Korea has been blocked by US military officials, highlighting divisions between Washington and Seoul on how to deal with the nuclear armed North. The two Koreas planned to begin a joint field study last week by sending a train from Seoul across the length of North Korea to Sinuiju, on the Chinese border, but their application was denied by the US-led United Nations Command. 

The denial underscores a growing split between South Korea, which favours engagement with North Korea, and the US, where officials have demanded denuclearisation as a prerequisite to any economic cooperation. The move came as Donald Trump berated China for “providing North Korea with considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertiliser and various other commodities”.

The rail project is part of a wider push by South Korean Moon Jae-in to improve inter-Korean relations and set the stage for large-scale investment if sanctions, designed to punish the North for its nuclear weapons program, are lifted. Moon has called for rail links by the end of the year.

Moon will push for as many projects as he can without antagonizing Washington, said Mintaro Oba, a former US diplomat who focused on North Korea policy. “But there is definitely potential for a wider gap between the allies if the relationship is not managed carefully,” he said. “While there’s some common ground there, it means Seoul sees ambitious inter-Korean projects as supporting its goals - while the United States tends to see them as undermining its leverage to get denuclearisation,” he added.

Source: The Guardian 

Top Chinese Official Will Visit North Korea

President Xi Jinping of China will send a top official to North Korea this weekend to attend major national celebrations there, state-controlled media in both countries reported on Tuesday. Li Zhanshu, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee and the head of China’s rubber-stamp Parliament, will lead a delegation to Pyongyang, the capital, on Saturday as Mr. Xi’s special envoy, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. North Korea plans to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its government on Sunday with large celebrations, including a military parade.

There had been speculation in recent weeks that Mr. Xi might attend the celebrations himself, in what would have been his first visit to North Korea. Mr. Xi has met three times this year with the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, but always in China. Mr. Xi might have been put in an embarrassing position if the military parade had shown off nuclear-capable weaponry while he and Mr. Kim looked on. China has supported many proposals for encouraging the North to give up nuclear arms, and it expressed satisfaction after Mr. Kim made a vague commitment to denuclearization at his June meeting with President Trump in Singapore. A visit to Pyongyang by Mr. Xi might also have risked annoying Washington, which has been urging Beijing to maintain “maximum” pressure on the North to give up nuclear weapons.

China has joined efforts to impose tough sanctions on the North, but it remains the country’s single largest trading partner, accounting for more than 90 percent of its external trade. As the two countries’ relationship has improved this year following Mr. Kim’s meetings with Mr. Xi, American officials have worried that China is easing up on sanctions enforcement.

Source: The New York Times 


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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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