PN's Voice 132

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PN's Voice 132, 29.03.2018
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PN's Voice No. 132,  29. 03. 2018 
Small steps, Road to peace

Two Koreas Set Date for Summit
The two Koreas began high-level talks this morning to discuss preparations for next month's inter-Korean summit. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea's chief delegate, told reporters that the delegation will aim to set a date for the summit. He and his team were able to do that with the date set for April 27th. 

Cho said the issue of denuclearization was most important issue during the high-level talks in January and subsequent inter-Korean exchanges, and it will continue to be discussed as a key issue. 

After setting a date, the two sides also agreed to hold working-level talks next Wednesday to discuss protocol, security and media coverage.
Source : KBS News

Trump and Abe Keen to Meet Kim After Beijing Trip
US President Donald Trump has said he is keen to meet Kim Jong-un after being told the North Korean leader's trip to China "went very well". But Mr Trump said maximum sanctions and pressure on North Korea would continue ahead of proposed talks in May. He added that denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula was now a possibility. The comments follow Mr Kim's meeting with China's President Xi Jinping, in his first known foreign trip since taking office in 2011.

Mr Trump's agreement to hold an unprecedented summit with Mr Kim astonished many observers. The announcement, which would make Mr Trump the first sitting US president to meet a North Korean leader, came after months of hostility and a string of North Korean missile tests. News of the major breakthrough in tensions was met with concern in the US, with reports that Mr Trump had made the decision without consulting key figures in his administration. However, Mr Trump later tweeted that a deal with North Korea was "very much in the making".

But despite the progress in recent months, a number of factors could affect the chances of success. While Mr Kim has reportedly told China and South Korea he is willing to abandon nuclear weapons, he has stated that this comes with conditions, China's Xinhua news agency reported. There are also troubling reports from North Korea. Satellite images from last month, published by the New York Times, show what looks like a new nuclear reactor ready to go online. The newspaper claims it could produce 20kg of weapons-grade plutonium each year. Meanwhile, US and South Korean troops are gearing up for annual military drills which the North has historically seen as provocation. They start on Monday.
Source : BBC News

China: NK Committed to Denuclearization
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un pledged his commitment to denuclearization and to meet U.S. officials, China said on Wednesday after his meeting with President Xi Jinping, who promised China would uphold friendship with its isolated neighbour. After two days of speculation, China and North Korea both confirmed that Kim had travelled to Beijing and met Xi during what China called an unofficial visit from Sunday to Wednesday.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the China-North Korea talks and Kim’s decision to travel outside his country were a “positive sign” the U.S.-led pressure campaign to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons has been working. “We’re going to be cautiously optimistic,” she told reporters.
Source : Reuters

Trump Replaces McMaster with Uber-Hawk John Bolton as National Security Adviser 
President Donald Trump has replaced US National Security Adviser HR McMaster with Bush-era defence hawk and former United Nations ambassador John Bolton. Mr Trump tweeted to thank Gen McMaster, saying he had done an "outstanding job & will always remain my friend". Mr Bolton, who has backed attacking North Korea and Iran, told Fox News his job would be to ensure the president has "the full range of options". He becomes Mr Trump's third national security chief in 14 months. Mr Bolton's appointment does not require US Senate confirmation. He will take the job on 9 April. Mr Bolton, 69, has been a foreign policy hawk in Republican circles for decades, having served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and George W Bush. The second Bush appointed him as US envoy to the UN, during which time diplomats privately criticised Mr Bolton's style as abrasive. A strident neo-conservative, Mr Bolton helped build the case that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be wrong. He stands by the invasion of Iraq and has advocated in newspaper op-eds using military force against North Korea and Iran.
Source : BBC News

 

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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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