PN's Voice 22

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PN's Voice 22, 01-12-2014
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PN's Voice 22, 01.12.2014
Small steps, Road to peace

Japan-S. Korea Talks over Wartime Sex Slaves Fails to Make Progress

A fifth round of talks between South Korean and Japanese officials on the subject of wartime sex slavery failed to make any headway in resolving the two nations’ differences over the issue. During World War II, the Japanese military forced as many as 200,000 Asian women to work as sex slaves. Korea’s Asian neighbors, such as China, have backed Korea’s calls for Japan to issue an apology for its atrocities, but the island nation has continually claimed the issue has already been dealt with.

The unresolved issue of the so called ‘comfort women’ is a constant stumbling block in Seoul-Tokyo relations. Earlier Korea requested Japan take sincere conciliatory measures for the victims and made the resolution of the issue a precondition for a summit between the leaders of the two countries. No summit took place as the two sides could not make any progress on the issue.

During talks, the Korean side stressed that Japan must produce a set of measures to show remorse towards the wartime victims. In response, a Japanese official stated that Tokyo had already taken necessary measures in the past and therefore the issue was resolved, and therefore the Korean government should stop putting pressure on Japan to take additional measures. Additionally, a Korean official said that Japan was insisting that the comfort girl statue, widely known as peace statue, set up in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, as well as additional monuments in the United States be removed. The Korean representatives argued that this was impossible as the statues were established by non-profit groups and therefore the government was not in a position to do anything.

A South Korean official stressed that Seoul's aim is to derive a solution acceptable by the 55 remaining elderly victims of sex slavery and that the government will patiently work to achieve the goal.
Despite, the lack of progress during this round of talks, South Korea and Japan have decided to hold a the next round of talks in Japan next month.
Source : The Korea Times, KBS World Radio

S. Korean Nuclear Envoy to Visit Russia

South Korea's top nuclear envoy is currently in Russia for a four-day to discuss the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, in particular North Korea's nuclear program. Hwang Joon-Kook, Seoul's top negotiator on the stalled six-party talks to denuclearize the North, will meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov on Wednesday. Hwang is also scheduled to meet with experts and officials on Korean peninsula issues, in order to comprehensively exchange views on North Korea-related issues.
Hwang’s visit comes after North Korea actively reached out to Moscow in an apparent move to come out of international isolation and to build diplomatic bridges. During this visit North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's special envoy, Choe Ryong-Hae, held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, agreeing to deepen bilateral ties. After a meeting with Choe, Lavrov announced that Pyongyang is ready to return to the six party talks without preconditions. The six party talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have been stalled since late 2008, with Seoul and Washington sticking to the precondition that Pyongyang takes sincere, concrete actions towards denuclearization before the resumption of any talks.

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-Il articulated South Korea and Russia’s position on North Korea’s nuclear program: "We basically share with Russia the notion that North Korea's nuclear programs will not be tolerated and it will never be acknowledged as a nuclear state." Noh continued to say: “under the situation where North Korea appears to be closer to Russia than its long-time ally of China, Hwang's visit is expected to let us learn the most recent information on what Pyongyang has on its mind," a Seoul's foreign ministry official said under the condition of anonymity.
Source : Xinhua News, Yonhap News

US Nuclear Envoy Begins Two Day Seoul Visit

While South Korea’s top nuclear envoy is in Russia this week, the US’ Special Representative for North Korea Policy, Glyn Davies, is also in the middle of a two day visit to Seoul. Davies will meet with his South Korean counterpart Cho Tae-Yong and other senior officials to assess the current situation on the peninsula discuss ways to end North Korea's nuclear program, and strengthen their alliance in dealing with Pyongyang. An official at Seoul's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that the US envoy who arrived in Seoul today are also expected to discuss China's recent proposal to hold an informal meeting between members of the six-party denuclearization talks.
Source : Chosun Ilbo, The Global Post

Ex-First Lady’s Trip to N. Korea Looking Unlikely

Lee Hee-Ho, the wife of the late President Kim Dae-Jung, may not be able to carry out her plan of visiting North Korea due to declining health. The 93-year-old was initially scheduled to visit the North overland at the end of this year or the beginning of next year. Her aides said that combined with the health issue, cold weather was another reason why the 93-year-old former first lady was considering cancelling her trip to North Korea. The Kim Dae-Jung Peace Center said it would officially announce today whether she will visit the North

Lee’s accommodation and route had both received permission and thus been confirmed, and the North had reiterated that the open invitation for Lee to visit still stood. As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, the North’s standing invitation for Lee came about after Lee visited North Korea in 2011 to offer her condolences to Kim Jong-Un after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il.

Lee’s ill health may not be the only reason behind any potential decision not to visit this year; the timing of her trip was the source of some debate and was seen as being something of a contentious issue. This is principally due to Lee’s awareness that visiting in December, the period of mourning for Kim Jong-Il, could anger South Korean conservative groups who could accuse her of honoring Kim Jong-Il. It is perhaps possible that the former first lady may not outright cancel her trip, but rather delay it until the new year.

Lee's North Korea trip raised hope that the former first lady could play a role in improving relations
Source : Yonhap News, The Korea Times

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