PN's Voice 119

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PN's Voice 119, 29.06.2017
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PN's Voice No. 119,  29. 06. 2017 
Small steps, Road to peace


Trump and Moon Gear up for First US-S. Korea Summit

As President Trump prepares to meet with new South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the first time, the White House said on Wednesday that the U.S. has only begun to exert serious pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program and faulted the Obama administration for not imposing stronger sanctions against Pyongyang. Mr. Trump and his advisers say there is much more that the U.S. and South Korea can do together to get North Korea’s attention, including greater economic isolation. But that could make for some awkward moments in Thursday’s talks with the dovish Mr. Moon, a onetime human rights lawyer and a long-time backer of the “Sunshine Policy” that includes a softer approach and enhanced ties with the North.

“We are adding pressure and have really only begun to do so,” a senior White House official said. “It’s really the one approach that we haven’t tried yet: acute economic pressure on North Korea. That campaign is only now gathering momentum. And the president is determined to follow through with that and to see how it works.”

Mr. Moon spoke often on the campaign trail against U.S. military posturing around North Korea, and has raised questions about the Pentagon’s move to install an anti-missile system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, which targets North Korea but has also alarmed China and Russia. But, with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe already having been given warm welcomes by Mr. Trump, the South Korean leader is likely to take a far more conciliatory approach during his meeting at the White House.

Mr. Moon’s four-day Washington visit will include dinner with Mr. Trump on Thursday night and formal talks Friday at the White House, as well as talks with U.S. business leaders and a Washington think tank. While Mr. Moon was given a strong mandate in May by South Korean voters who saw the THAAD anti-missile system as an unwanted escalation with the North, analysts say he will temper his views in front of Mr. Trump. In pre-summit interviews in Seoul, he repeatedly stressed that he and Mr. Trump shared the same goals in dealing with security issues on the Korean Peninsula.

As the two leaders meet face to face, there is a clear undercurrent of tension over the U.S. military presence in South Korea. Mr. Moon surprised the Pentagon this month by suspending the deployment of THAAD until his administration could complete an environmental impact assessment. The suspension could be read as a concession to China, which has expressed outrage over THAAD and says the real reason behind Washington’s deployment is to spy on and contain Chinese — not North Korean — military assets. Mr. Moon promised on the campaign trail to order a review of THAAD, arguing that the system’s deployment failed to take into consideration the potential fallout for South Korea.

Mr. Moon’s refusal to rule out seeking new talks with Pyongyang — and possibly restarting joint North-South business and cultural ventures — also clashes with the harder line in Washington. “The critical question is which President Moon will come to D.C.,” said Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, who advised U.S. diplomats on multinational talks with North Korea prior to the collapse of the negotiations in 2009. “Is it the one who recognizes the growing threat from North Korea? Or is it one who is intent on engaging North Korea regardless of Pyongyang’s continued provocations?” he asked in a conference call with reporters.
Source : The Washington Times

Experts See Little Chance of U.S.-N. Korea Talks after Warmbier's Death

The rare secret meetings the United States and North Korea held about a long-detained American student are unlikely to lead to resumption of broader nuclear talks as long as three other U.S. citizens are held in the communist nation, experts said Wednesday. Ambassador Joseph Yun, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, held a meeting in Oslo with senior North Korean diplomats last month and another in New York over the detained American citizens in what is believed to be the first time officials of the two countries have met face-to-face in perhaps years. During the course of the meetings, North Korea confessed that one of the four hostages, University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, had been in a coma for more than a year, and President Donald Trump dispatched Yun to Pyongyang to bring the 22-year-old home after 17 months in captivity.

The secret meetings came as tensions are running high between Washington and Pyongyang, with the North carrying out a series of ballistic missile tests and the U.S. working hard to drive up pressure on the regime, and spurred speculation the two sides might be closer to resuming long-stalled nuclear talks. But experts said such chances are not high. "It is too early to predict how the situation will develop. I do not think political level talks will be sustainable without the release of the other three American detainees," Scott Snyder, chief Korea analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, said.

The Washington Post reported that while approving Yun's meetings with the North Koreans, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was "adamant that Yun participate in the meetings only under the precondition that the detained Americans be the focus of the agenda." Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said that the North's detention of a comatose student for more than a year "shows they have sunk to a lower level of depravity than I imagined." "What if he had died in captivity? It is both callous and really dumb on their part, sending a clear message -– we don't care if he lives or dies," Manning said.

As to the possibility of talks resuming, the expert said the North does not appear ready for negotiations. "Talking is always better than not talking. But I see little indication that they are serious about restarting denuclearization talks. They walked away from the September 2005 accord, so the ball is in their court. They must demonstrate sincerity," he said. If the North wants to restart talks, it should demonstrate its seriousness with tangible signs, such as a moratorium on nuclear and missile testing, he said. "But for starters, if they don't resolve these humanitarian concerns and release the three American hostages, it is difficult to see why we should take them seriously in regard to dialogue," Manning said.
Source : Yonhap News

N. Korea warns of Capital Punishment Against Ex-President Park

North Korea yesterday warned of capital punishment against a former South Korean president and a former spy chief for their alleged plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The angry statement came after a Japanese media report that former South Korean President Park Geun-hye had instructed former National Intelligence Service (NIS) Director Lee Byung-ho to oust Kim by any means -- including assassination. Former President Park Geun-hye and former spy chief Lee Byung-ho as well as NIS agents "can never make any appeal even though they meet miserable dog's death any time, at any place and by whatever methods from this moment," the North Korea Ministry of State Security said in an English-language statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency. The statement demanded South Korea immediately hand over Park and Lee to North Korea, claiming they committed what it claims is hideous state-sponsored terrorism against the North's supreme leadership. punishment without advanced notice on those who organized, took part in or pursued the plot in case the U.S. and South Korea again try to stage a terrorist attack against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. "We do not hide that should the U.S. and the South Korean authorities defy this warning and challenge our resolute measure, they will be made to pay a dear price in an irresistible physical way," said the statement, which was also issued by the Ministry of People's Security and the Central Public Prosecutors Office.

When contacted by Yonhap, the NIS dismissed "as groundless" North Korea's allegation of South Korea's assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim. The spy agency also said the North's "open threat" against South Korean citizens won't be tolerated at all. Former President Park is not available for comment as she is in jail after being impeached in March for her alleged involvement in a massive corruption scandal that toppled the nation and resulted in a presidential election in May.
Source : Yonhap News, The Guardian


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