PN's Voice 149, 18.12.2018
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PN's Voice No. 149 18. 12. 2018
Small steps, Road to peace
Trump wants South Korea to Double Funding for US Troops
A recent Wall Street Journal article revealed that U.S. President Donald Trump is set to demand South Korea pay as much as double its current funding for American troops stationed in South Korea. Seoul and Washington are currently negotiating how to share the burden of defense costs in the coming years.
The Wall Street Journal report said that Trump wants to make South Korea pay roughly double the current amount, equivalent to $1.6 billion per year for the next five years. The current Special Measures Agreement, a five-year contract between the U.S. and South Korea, is set to expire at the end of this year. Under the agreement, South Korea is paying about 960 billion won ($854 million) per year for the stationing of over 28,000 U.S. troops here.
Trump’s pressuring of South Korea to pay a bigger share of the US defense costs on the Korean Peninsula has been centred around the questions of why the US is “subsidizing” its allies’ militaries. However, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been telling local officials he is not willing to pay more. The leaders of the top five political parties have reportedly agreed with Moon and said they cannot accept an increase.
US diplomatic and military officials, such as Defense Secretary James Mattis, have tried to convince Trump of the importance of the alliance with Seoul, rather than only focus on financial considerations. Seoul and Washington have held a total of nine meetings, but have still been unable to come to agreement; they are set to hold another meeting in Seoul this week. Friction between Washington and Seoul has been exacerbated by a difference in opinion over their differences of opinion over how to approach North Korean denuclearization.
Source : The Wall Street Journal, The Hankyoreh
IAEA Preparing for Potential NK Inspections
On his visit to Japan, the IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano told Foreign Minister Taro Kono that his agency is "drawing up a plan for inspection and training (of inspectors).” He added that the IAEA will be ready to send inspectors back to the North as soon as a related deal is reached. IAEA inspectors haven’t been to North Korea since the North expelled inspectors back in 2009.
Source : Yonhap News
UN Adopts N. Korea Human Rights Resolution
The United Nations has passed a resolution condemning North Korea's human rights violations for the 14th consecutive year. South Korea, which has participated in similar resolutions as a co-sponsor since 2008, also joined UN member states in adopting the resolution. The non-binding resolution says the General Assembly condemns the "long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights in and by North Korea."
It urges the UN Security Council to review the UN Commission of Inquiry's report that details abuses in the North and to "take appropriate action to ensure accountability," such as by considering referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court. New in this year's document is language welcoming the diplomatic efforts currently underway.
Source : KBS News, The Korea Herald
NK Leader Unlikely to visit Seoul this Year
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae thinks it would be difficult for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to visit Seoul this year. Cheong Wa Dae had been saying that it had hoped Kim’s visit to Seoul would happen before the end of 2018.
In the Pyongyang inter-Korean summit agreement in September, Kim agreed to visit Seoul "at an early date," which President Moon Jae-in said meant by the end of this year. North Korea is known to be cautious about clarifying the timing of Kim's visit, apparently out of concerns over security and amid its stalled denuclearization talks with the United States. Additionally, December is already a busy month for the North as Dec. 17 is the national anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il, the father of the incumbent leader. Time will also be spent reviewing its yearly accomplishments and preparing for Kim's New Year's speech.
U.S. President Donald Trump earlier said that he expects a second summit with Kim early next year, but denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang have made little progress. As for Kim’s visit to Seoul, Seoul's presidential official said, "We are open to the possibility (of his visit) early next year as well, but we don't know what will happen".
Source : The Korea Times
North Korea Condemns Latest US Sanctions
North Korea has denounced the latest US sanctions, saying they could "block the path to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula forever". Washington said it put the sanctions on three top officials, after a report threw up a raft of human rights abuses. The US vowed to seize the US assets of Mr Kim's right-hand man, Choe Ryong-hae, and two others, security minister Jong Kyong-thaek and propaganda official Pak Kwang-ho. State department spokesman Robert Palladino said: "Human rights abuses in North Korea remain among the worst in the world and include extrajudicial killings, forced labour, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence."
In a statement, the North Korean administration expressed "shock and indignation" at the new US sanctions. Among the North's many rebukes, it called Mr Trump an "old lunatic” and said the US policy of "maximum pressure" would be its "greatest miscalculation" and that it should instead return to the confidence building that was hoped for following the leaders' summit in Singapore, when relations appeared to be heading for a brighter future.
Source : BBC News, The Guardian & The New York Times
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