PN's Voice 139

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PN's Voice 139, 11.08.2018
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PN's Voice No. 139  11. 08. 2018 
Small steps, Road to peace

U.S. Travel Ban to N. Korea May End this Month

A U.S. ban on its citizens traveling to North Korea is expected to expire at the end of this month. The U.S. government announced last August that U.S. passport holders were banned from traveling to North Korea for a year. The travel ban followed the death of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier, who suffered brain damage after he was detained by North Korea. 

Source : Korea Times

N. Korea urges U.S. to End to Korean War

North Korea reiterated its demand Thursday for the United States to agree to declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War, saying that it would help bring in peace and create mutual trust. Declaring an end to the Korean War is "the demand of our time" and will be the "first process" toward a peace and security guarantee, the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers' Party of Korea, said in a commentary. The newspaper added that it is "abnormal" to see distrust and animosity going on between the North and the US even now, saying that it is time to take action toward declaring an end to the war. In an April summit, President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to seek such declaration this year through three-way meetings involving the two Koreas and the United States or four-way talks involving the two Koreas, the US and China. Declaring an end to the war is regarded as symbolic and political but also seen as a prelude to the replacement of the current Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty. 

Source : The Korea Herald 

Pompeo Asked N. Korea to Cut Nuclear Arsenal by 60 to 70%

U.S. news outlets are reporting that that the Trump administration has presented North Korea with a formal timeline for starting the process of denuclearization, but Pyongyang has rejected it several times. It was reported that Washington’s presented a plan that North Korea hands over 60 to 70 percent of its nuclear warheads within six to eight months. The U.S. or a third party would then take possession of them and remove them from the North. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly presented the plan to North Korean negotiators multiple times over the past two months, but the North’s delegation, led by senior official Kim Yong-chol, has turned down Pompeo’s proposal each time. The report said that it is unclear what concessions, if any, the U.S. would offer in exchange beyond sanctions relief or removing North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list. 

Source : KBS News 

N. Korea calls U.S. Actions on Nuke Programme 'Alarming'

North Korea's foreign minister has called US actions "alarming" as tensions over the North's nuclear programme again flared. Ri Yong-ho was responding to comments by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who urged other countries to keep up sanctions pressure on Pyongyang. A landmark summit between the two sides in Singapore in June saw the North agree to work towards denuclearisation. But details remain vague and the UN says its nuclear programme continues. At a regional forum, also in Singapore, Mr Pompeo said it was important to maintain "diplomatic and economic pressure" on North Korea to achieve "the final, fully verified denuclearisation". In response, Mr Ri said that North Korea "stands firm" in its commitment made at the June summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He added: "What is alarming, however, is the insistent moves manifested within the US to go back to the old, far from its leader's intention." Mr Trump and Mr Kim made a commitment to work towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but it is still unclear how this could be achieved. The commitment was included in a one-page agreement at the end of the summit aimed at reducing regional tensions. 

Source : BBC News 

Humanitarian aid for N. Korea may assist denuclearization process

Providing humanitarian aid to North Korea could be used to try and aid the denuclearization process a South Korean presidential spokesman said on Wednesday, possibly hinting at a resumption of assistance for the impoverished neighbor in the near future. "(I) believe humanitarian aid is something we must do at any time and that humanitarian aid is another way to encourage denuclearization of North Korea on the other hand," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters. Seoul suspended its humanitarian assistance to the North under the U.N. Security Council sanctions, despite setting aside at least US$8 million at the start of the year for North Korean aid. Soon after the U.N. Security Council approved the change to aid for North Korea, an official from Seoul's unification ministry said the country will seek to provide its assistance to the North at an "appropriate time." 

Source : Yonhap 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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