2021: Peace Network Newsletter Issue 2021-5

Peace Network Korea
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Peace Network

Peace Network Newsletter, 2021-5 
Small steps, Road to peace

N. Korean nuclear issue a top priority for Biden administration: State Dept.
The North Korean nuclear issue remains a top priority for the U.S. government despite the recent lack of direct engagement with the country, a State Department official said Friday. Ned Price, department press secretary, also said the U.S. is in close touch with its allies and partners to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue. "I hope you don't confuse a lack of direct engagement with North Korea as an indication that the challenge of North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs to suggest that that's not a priority," Price said in a telephonic press conference. "It is, in fact, very much is," he added.
(source: Yonhap News)

N.Korean Foreign Minister Ri named politiburo member
North Korean Foreign Minster Ri Son-gwon has been elected a member of the powerful politburo of the ruling Workers' Party, state media reported Friday. Ri was by-elected as a politburo member during a four-day plenary meeting of the party's eighth Central Committee that wrapped up on Thursday, according to the Korean Central News Agency. Kim Song-nam, another ranking party official, was also named an alternate member of the politburo, while O Su-yong was elected as director of the party's Department of Economic Affairs, the KCNA said. North Korea convened the plenary Central Committee meeting this week to discuss how to implement the first year's tasks of a five-year economic development plan and other objectives set forth during last month's party congress. Leader Kim Jong-un attended the multi-day meeting and reported on economic and other domestic issues, criticizing economic agencies for "passive, self-protecting tendencies." Kim also earlier specified policy directions for inter-Korean relations and external matters, though relevant details were not disclosed.(source: Yonhap News)

South Korea, US preparing to stage combined exercise in mid-March: sources
South Korea and the United States are preparing to hold their annual springtime combined military exercise next month, sources said Sunday. The planned exercise has drawn keen attention amid concern that North Korea could use the exercise as a pretext for provocations in the early months of the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. Pyongyang has long denounced such drills as a rehearsal for invasion. Despite complaints from the North, the computer-simulated command post training will likely kick off in mid-March, according to the sources. Consultations are under way between Seoul and Washington to decide the details, including its size and schedule. "Discussions have continued at the working-level and we will have a meeting to finalize the decision," an official said. The two allies usually stage major combined exercises twice a year, along with smaller-scale drills throughout the year. But they "indefinitely" postponed the springtime program in 2020 in the face of the new coronavirus pandemic, and the summertime exercise was held in a scaled-back manner in August. Talks are also under way about the Full Operational Capability (FOC) test, which is meant to check if Seoul is on course to meet the conditions to retake the wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean troops from the U.S. The test was supposed to be held in 2020, but the two sides were not able to do so due to the COVID-19 situation. No exact timeframe has been set for the envisioned transition, though the current Moon Jae-in administration has hoped to retake it within Moon's term that ends in May 2022.
(source: The Korea Times)


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