PN's Voice 143

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PN's Voice 143, 30.10.2018
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PN's Voice No. 143  30 10. 2018 
Small steps, Road to peace

Koreas to Remove Guns and Guard Posts from Panmunjom

North and South Korea have agreed to remove guns and guard posts from Panmunjom, the "truce town" that straddles their border and is the only place along the border where troops from the two Koreas face each other. By Thursday, firearms and guard posts will be removed from the zone in an attempt to lower tensions and build understanding between the two nations who are still technically at war. Panmunjom is used as a meeting point, and the leaders of the two Koreas met there twice this year. However, it has also seen a number of armed skirmishes over the years. Just last December, a North Korean soldier was shot and seriously injured by his own side while defecting to the South. In keeping with the conciliatory mood, earlier this month troops from both sides also started removing about 800,000 landmines buried along the border.

Meanwhile, a group of North Korean officials left for Russia on Monday, the North's official news agency said, amid speculation that leader Kim Jong-un is planning to visit the country later this month or early next month. 

Source : BBC News 

SK- U.S. Set for Defense Talks 

South Korea and the United States will hold their annual defense ministers' talks in Washington this week over a range of bilateral issues, such as the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) and the approach towards denuclearizing North Korea. South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and his U.S. counterpart, James Mattis, will meet on Wednesday to try and stay on the same page to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea. 

South Korea and the United States will hold their annual defense ministers' talks in Washington this week over a range of bilateral issues, such as the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) and the approach towards denuclearizing North Korea. South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and his U.S. counterpart, James Mattis, will meet on Wednesday to try and stay on the same page to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea. 

South Korea and the United States will hold their annual defense ministers' talks in Washington this week over a range of bilateral issues, such as the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) and the approach towards denuclearizing North Korea. South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and his U.S. counterpart, James Mattis, will meet on Wednesday to try and stay on the same page to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea. 

Source : Yonhap News

N. Korea Unwilling to Provide Nuclear List due to U.S. Hostility 

North Korea is unwilling to provide a list detailing its nuclear facilities and materials as long as the United States holds on to a policy of hostility towards Pyongyang, according to Moon Chung-in, a security adviser to President Moon Jae-in said Monday. The special presidential adviser for unification, diplomacy and national security affairs, said that he recently heard a top-ranking North Korean official expressing reluctance to comply with the U.S. demand that the North submit a list of nuclear sites and accept an international nuclear inspection prior to a declaration to end the Korean War. In accordance with those sentiments, the adviser called for a flexible stance, instead of a rigid and one-sided approach, in negotiations with North Korea. He said the U.S. approach to the North Korean nuclear problem, which seems based on the principle of collective agreement, is considered inflexible and even idealistic. "I agree to complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization and that's certainly our goal. But if we adhere to this unpractical approach, the consequences are tragic and we should avoid such a situation from the beginning," said Moon. 

Source : Yonhap News

S.K.-U.S. Discuss N.K. Strategy Amid Reports of Discord 

Top South Korean and U.S. officials on North Korea met this week for discussions on ways to revitalize denuclearization talks amid growing concerns about a possible rift between the allies. Stephen Biegun, the Trump administration's special representative for North Korea, opened talks with counterpart Lee Do-hoon, as well as holding a meeting with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha. The liberal Moon Jae-in government has been struggling to convince the general populace that South Korea and the U.S. see eye-to-eye on the best way to engage with North Korea. U.S. officials are reportedly angered by Seoul's push for speedy inter-Korean economic projects despite there being no further progress in efforts for a complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID) of North Korea. Additionally, there are suggestions that U.S. officials are upset about the Moon administration's pursuit of an easing of sanctions. 

Source : The Guardian , Yonhap News 

Pope Francis Accepts Offer to visit NK 

Pope Francis will seriously consider making an unprecedented visit to North Korea, but some conditions would have to be met, a senior Vatican official has said. The Pope was given an invitation by Kim Jong-un, which was delivered personally by Moon Jae-in, who had a private audience at the Vatican on Thursday. Speaking on Thursday evening, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, told reporters: “The pope expressed his willingness. We have to wait for [the invitation] to be formalised.” Asked if there were conditions that the north would have to meet, Parolin added: “This will come later, once we start thinking in earnest about the possibility of making this trip, then we will have to think about conditions in which the trip can take place.” 

North Korea may be a country of particular interest to the Vatican as it is one of the worst countries in the world for persecuting Christians, thousands of whom are incarcerated in labour camps. North Korea has topped a list of 50 countries ranked for the persecution of Christians for 16 years in a row. According to Open Doors, there are an estimated 300,000 Christians in North Korea’s population of 25.4 million, and 50,000-75,000 Christians in its labour camps. 

Source : The Guardian 

 
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