North - South Korea

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September 18, 2018 - Two Koreas to Sign Joint Statement after Summit: Seoul
Two Koreas to sign joint statement after summit: Seoul | Reuters


Leaders of North and South Korea plan to sign a joint statement on inter-Korean relations after their summit on Wednesday in the North's capital Pyongyang, Seoul officials said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will hold a joint news conference after the signing ceremony, and after the two Korea’s defense chiefs adopt a separate military pact, Moon’s press secretary Yoon Young-chan told reporters.


September 18, 2018 - North Korea to allow International Inspections for Nuclear Dismantlement, if US takes Reciprocal Measures
North Korea to allow international inspections for nuclear dismantlement, if U.S. takes reciprocal measures | Reuters

North Korea agreed to allow international inspectors to observe a “permanent dismantlement” of its key missile facilities,
and will take additional steps such as closing its main Yongbyon nuclear complex if the United States takes reciprocal measures, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday.

North and South Korea agreed that the Korean Peninsula should turn into a “land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats,” Moon said following the conclusion of his summit talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.


September 18, 2018 - North Korea's Kim agrees to Inspections in bid to salvage Nuclear Talks
Trump enthusiastic at North Korea missile pledge, others doubtful | Reuters


North Korea said on Wednesday it would permanently abolish its key missile facilities in the presence of foreign experts, in a new gesture by leader Kim Jong Un to revive faltering talks with Washington over his country's nuclear program.

The pledges Kim and Moon made at their third summit this year could inject fresh momentum into the stalled nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang and lay the groundwork for another meeting Kim recently proposed to U.S. President Donald Trump.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 - Pyongyang Agrees to Shut down Nuclear Reactor, North Korean Leader to Visit Seoul by Year-End
Farsnews

North Korea agreed to shut down its experimental nuclear reactor in the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, while the North Korean leader is expected to visit South Korea by the end of the year.

"North Korea gave its consent to fully stop the work of the nuclear reactor in Yongbyon," South Korean president Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday after talks with his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, World News reported.

A joint statement, adopted by the two nations after the talks, said that Pyongyang would make similar steps toward denuclearization if the United States honors the agreements reached during the Singapore summit of US President Donald Trump and Kim.

The Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center houses an uranium enrichment facility and a 5-megawatt reactor, built by North Korean scientists in 1986. According to experts, every year it can produce enough materials to make several nuclear warheads.

Moon also told reporters on Wednesday following this year’s third inter-Korean talks that Kim is expected to visit Seoul by the end of the year.

"The visit should take place by the end of the year, if nothing extraordinary happens," he said, adding that the visit would be "a turning point in inter-Korean relations".

Kim confirmed he was set to visit the South Korean capital "in the near future".

The leaders of North and South Korea also agreed to reconnect severed rails and roads across the border, according to their joint statement signed on Wednesday.

"South and North have agreed that works to reconnect the railways and roads in the east and west should begin within a year," the document read.

North and South Korea have also agreed to jointly bid for hosting the 2032 Summer Olympic Games, according to a joint declaration signed by the two states’ leaders on Wednesday.

Kim and Moon signed a joint document following their talks in Pyongyang on Wedensday. The leaders of the two states put their signatures under the document and shook hands.

The South Korean president said the two states have agreed on measures to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula, adding that "South and North agreed to turn the demilitarized border zone into the zone of peace and prosperity".

Among other measures to ease tensions, the South Korean leader named an agreement to set up a joint committee comprising members of the two states’ top brass.

The North Korean leader also told reporters at a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart that "the Pyongyang declaration will open a new era of prosperity and peace for both Koreas", describing the talks as "very substantive".

According to the North Korean leader, a comprehensive military deal, signed by the two states’ defense ministers during the summit, will contribute to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The inter-Korean summit, the fifth in history and the third this year, began in Pyongyang on September 18 and will end on September 20. The first round of talks between the leaders of North and South Korea within the framework of the ongoing summit took place on Tuesday and lasted two hours. Earlier this year, the two leaders met in the border city of Panmunjom twice. Two previous inter-Korean summits were held in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007.


September 19, 2018 - Trump praises Korean Summit, cites progress on North Korea
Trump praises Korean summit, cites progress on North Korea | Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump hailed Wednesday’s summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and said there had been “tremendous progress” with North Korea on several fronts including Pyongyang’s denuclearization.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said agreements reached between the two Korean leaders at the meeting, in which North Korea said it would permanently abolish its key missile facilities with witnesses, was “very good news.”

“He’s calm and I’m calm, so we’ll see what happens,” Trump said, referring to Kim.


September 19, 2018 - Kremlin praises steps by Korean Leaders to resolve Nuclear Crisis
Kremlin praises steps by Korean leaders to resolve nuclear crisis | Reuters


The Kremlin said on Wednesday that it approved of agreements reached by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in at a summit in Pyongyang, describing them as effective steps toward a political settlement.
 

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Sept. 24, 2018 - Trump says Expects Announcement of New Summit with North Korea's Kim 'pretty soon'
Trump says expects announcement of new summit with North Korea's Kim 'pretty soon' | Reuters

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U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he expected a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to be announced "pretty soon" but that the location had yet to be determined.

Trump, during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the United Nations, said: “Chairman Kim has been really very open and terrific, frankly. I think he wants to see something happen.”

Moon met with Kim for a third time last week. He said brought Trump a personal message from the North Korean leader saying he was hoping to meet with the U.S. president again soon.

Trump and Kim met for an unprecedented summit on June 12, and Trump has been keen on a second meeting, even though some U.S. officials and most analysts say Pyongyang has yet to show it is prepared to give up a nuclear arsenal that threatens the United States.


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news briefing earlier on Monday he hoped to travel back to North Korea before the end of the year to make final preparations for a second summit, which he said he was “confident” would happen.

“I expect I’ll be traveling to Pyongyang before too long,” he said.

Asked if that would be before the end of the year, he replied: “Yes. Lord willing, I’ll be traveling before the end of the year.”

Pompeo said he was optimistic that Kim would deliver on his pledge to denuclearize, but this would take time.

We’re bringing the two senior leaders, the individuals who can actually make the decisions that will move this process forward, bring them together so we can continue to make progress towards what the U.N. Security Council has demanded and what Chairman Kim has promised he would do.

“That’s the effort. There remains work to be done. There will be some time before we get to complete denuclearization for sure.”

At last week’s meeting with Moon, Kim promised to dismantle a missile site and also a nuclear complex - if the United States took “corresponding action.”

However, while appearing to set a positive tone, the commitments fell far short of Washington’s demands for a complete inventory of North Korea’s weapons programs and irreversible steps toward denuclearization.

The mood though is sharply changed from that at last year’s U.N. General Assembly, when Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and mocked the North Korean leader as “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission.”

North Korea’s representative to the meeting, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, responded to Trump’s U.N. remarks last year by calling them “the sound of a dog barking” and warning that North Korea could detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

Pompeo has proposed a meeting with Ri at the General Assembly this week. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said last week the two had agreed to meet but said the meeting could take place later.
 

angelburst29

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It's been 65 years since the war on the Korean Peninsula ended. But it looks like both sides of the conflict are still on their way to reconciliation. Moreover, the peace talk mediators involved – Russia, China and the US – have different views on DPRK non-proliferation. On Thursday the UN hosted a ministerial meeting on the issue.

27.09.2018 - Moscow Opposes Washington's 'Stick-and-carrot' DPRK Policy
Moscow Opposes Washington's 'Stick-and-Carrot' DPRK Policy

For years, Russia has been playing a major role in the peace process on the Korean Peninsula. The UN General Assembly is just one of the places where Moscow and Pyongyang have a chance to share their views on the process of peace talks.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a bilateral meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong Ho.

The positive contacts between Seoul and Pyongyang accelerated in the past few years, thanks to peacekeeping efforts by Russia, China, and more recently — the US. Donald Trump's administration praised the North Korean leadership for its willingness to cooperate with the international community.

Secretary of State Pompeo is currently preparing for a trip to Pyongyang to lay the groundwork for another Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un summit.

Nevertheless, if you listen closely to speeches of Pompeo and other top Washington officials, aside from praising themselves and the North Korean leadership, it looks like the US is not prepared to ease the "stick" part of its "carrot-and-stick" DPRK policy.

Russia and China both play an active role in the DPRK peace talks. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who spoke at the UN ministerial meeting on North Korea non-proliferation, more trust is needed between some "peacekeepers" and the DPRK:

We are convinced that building trust is a key to resolving the problems on the Korean Peninsula through political and diplomatic means. The agreement reached in Pyongyang by North and South is a very important step in that direction."

However, unlike the US, Russia, according to the country's foreign minister, is calling for a more balanced approach, which will rely not only on restrictions and pressure against Pyongyang:

It is unacceptable for sanctions against the DPRK to become an instrument of collective punishment. Lack of trust between Washington and Pyongyang hinders the development of joint measures, which the parties could take at the same time and sequentially to move the process of resolving outstanding differences forward."

In his speech, Lavrov also pointed out that "any negotiation is a two-way street," and called for the gradual removal of sanctions against Pyongyang. He also reminded to his colleagues that similar talks with Iran ended with the US failing to deliver on their promises.

Sergey Lavrov has a busy schedule during this year's General Assembly. After the DPRK non-proliferation session on Thursday, he met with his BRICS counterparts — the foreign ministers of China, Brazil, India and South Africa.

On Friday, Russia's top diplomat will be addressing world leaders at the UN General Debate. On the same day, the Russian delegation will conclude its visit to the 73rd UN General Assembly meeting.

Russian Mission UN‏Verified account @RussiaUN
#Lavrov and FM Ri Yong Ho of #DPRK discussed bilateral adgenda & the current situation on and around the #Korean peninsula | Лавров обсудил с главой МИД #КНДР Ли Ён Хо двусторонние
отношения и ситуацию вокруг Корейского полуострова. #UNGA #UNGA73pic.twitter.com/LDNKkuIVZc

10:01 AM - 26 Sep 2018

#Lavrov: Steps by the DPRK towards disarmament should be followed by easing of sanctions.This is necessary to avoid a situation,which occurred with JCPOA, where the US, based on bogus pretext, withdrew from the Iranian Deal unilaterally, and that violated their UNSC obligations.pic.twitter.com/RJbixosKry

9:24 AM - 27 Sep 2018
 

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September 30, 2018 - US Warship sails near disputed South China Sea Islands: US Official
U.S. warship sails near disputed South China Sea islands: U.S. official | Reuters

A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Sunday, a U.S. official told Reuters, potentially angering Beijing at a time of tense relations between the two countries.

Beijing and Washington are locked in a trade war that has seen them impose increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on each other’s imports.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the destroyer Decatur traveled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.

China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

“We conduct routine and regular freedom-of-navigation operations, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future,” the U.S. official added.

China’s foreign ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The United States has criticized China’s construction of islands and military facilities in the area and is concerned they could be used to restrict free nautical movement.

The U.S. military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and are separate from political considerations.

The latest move comes at a particularly tense time in relations between the United States and China.

Friction between the world’s two biggest economies is now moving beyond trade, with U.S. President Donald Trump accusing Beijing this week of seeking to interfere in congressional elections, marking a new phase in an escalating campaign by Washington to put pressure on China.

China recently denied a request for a U.S. warship to visit Hong Kong and this month Beijing postponed joint military talks in protest against a U.S. decision to impose sanctions on a Chinese military agency and its director for buying Russian fighter jets and a surface-to-air missile system.

In May two U.S. Navy warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China.
 

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Oct. 1, 2018 - North, South Korea begin removing landmines along fortified Border
North, South Korea begin removing landmines along fortified border | Reuters


South Korean soldiers stand guard at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Troops from North and South Korea began removing some landmines along their heavily fortified border on Monday, the South's defense ministry said, in a pact to reduce tension and build trust on the divided peninsula.

Project details were agreed during last month’s summit in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

In a statement, the ministry said the two sides agreed to remove all landmines in the so-called Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom within the next 20 days, with military engineers performing the hazardous task on the South Korean side.

There was no immediate confirmation from North Korea that its troops had begun the process.

The deal also provides for removal of guard posts and weapons from the JSA to follow the removal of the mines, with the troops remaining there to be left unarmed.

The JSA is the only spot along the 250-km (155-mile) -long “demilitarized zone” (DMZ) where troops from both Koreas are face to face.

South Korean troops have gradually taken over most operations along their side of the border but international forces under the U.S.-led United Nations Command retain major roles, especially at the JSA, where an American commander and a South Korean deputy lead the security battalion.

UNC spokesman Colonel Chad Carroll declined to confirm if the command would also withdraw any weapons from the JSA, but said American forces would provide support for the demining operation.

“United States Forces Korea will perform a support role - to include having air medical evacuation assets available to respond within minutes of any potential medical emergencies,” he told Reuters in a statement.

Since fighting during the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in a stalemate, at least nine soldiers have been killed in incidents with North Korean troops, including the killing in 1976 of two U.S. soldiers by axe-wielding North Koreans, the UNC says.

In November 2017, North Korean troops at the JSA shot one of their soldiers defecting to the South five times.

More recently, it was the scene of the first dramatic April summit between Kim and Moon, as well as their second, more low-key meeting, in May.

In April, the neighbors announced their intention to turn the DMZ - long a symbol of tension and division - into a “peace zone”.

They have already dismantled propaganda loudspeakers and some guard posts along the border.

Demining projects are also set to begin on Monday in Gangwon province in South Korea’s east, to allow teams to search for the remains of soldiers killed in the war, the ministry added.

More than a million landmines were laid in border areas including the DMZ and the Civilian Control Zone in the South, say demining experts, and civilians and soldiers alike have been killed or injured by them.

In 2015, two South Korean soldiers were maimed by what Seoul said was a North Korean landmine, an accusation the North denied.


October 1, 2018 - Russia calls on South Korea to release vessel held at Busan Port
Russia calls on South Korea to release vessel held at Busan port | Reuters

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned South Korea’s ambassador in Moscow on Monday and demanded that Seoul allow a Russian vessel to leave South Korea’s port of Busan, the ministry said.

The ‘Sevastopol’ has been illegally held at the port, the ministry said without adding what had served as the pretext for the alleged detention.

“The Russian side demanded the (South Korean) maritime authorities’ ban on the vessel leaving the port be immediately canceled,” it said in a statement.

A vessel named Sevastopol was one of six Russian-flagged vessels targeted by United States sanctions in August for their alleged breach of United Nations restrictions on North Korea.

Washington accused the vessels and two Russian shipping companies of involvement in the transfer of refined petroleum products to North Korean vessels.

Russia denies the allegations and has called the sanctions groundless.
 

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Oct. 15, 2018 - Two Koreas, U.N. Command to hold First Meeting on Demilitarizing Border
Two Koreas, U.N. Command to hold first meeting on demilitarizing border | Reuters


FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in talk while taking a walk at Samjiyon Guesthouse in Ryanggang province, North Korea, September 20, 2018. Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool via REUTERS

North Korea, South Korea and the United Nations Command will hold their first three-way meeting on Tuesday to discuss demilitarizing the border between the two Koreas, South Korea's defense ministry said.

The leaders of the two Koreas last month endorsed a military pact that includes halting military exercises, a no-fly zone near their border and the gradual removal of landmines and guard posts within the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

Tuesday’s meeting will evaluate progress in removing landmines and guard posts, adjustments to border surveillance equipment, and ways to mutually verify demilitarization efforts, said Yonhap news agency, quoting ministry officials.

The closed-door meeting will be held at the border village of Panmunjom and attended by three representatives from each side, the ministry said in a statement.

The two Koreas agreed on Monday to begin reconnecting rail and road links, another step in an improving relationship in spite of U.S. concerns that the rapid North-South thaw could undermine efforts to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.


Oct. 14, 2018 - North Korea Leader sincere, must be rewarded for move to abandon Nuclear Weapons: South Korea President
North Korea leader sincere, must be rewarded for move to abandon nuclear weapons: South Korean president | Reuters


FILE PHOTO - South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk during a luncheon, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 21, 2018. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is sincere and really means to abandon nuclear weapons, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told a French newspaper, adding that the international community needed to reward him for that.

Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump pledged at a landmark summit in Singapore in June to work toward denuclearization. But the agreement was short on specifics and talks have made little headway since, with the North refusing to declare its nuclear weapons and facilities or agree to a concrete timeline.

“This year I have discussed in depth with Kim for hours. These meetings have convinced me that he has taken the strategic decision to abandon his nuclear weapon,” Moon told Le Figaro in an interview before a state visit to Paris.

Moon is to meet President Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

While Pyongyang has stopped nuclear and missile tests this year, it failed to keep its promise to allow international inspections of its dismantling of the Punggye-ri site in May, stirring criticism that the move could be reversed.

But Moon said Kim was “sincere, calm and polite” and “felt frustrated by the international community’s continuing mistrust”.

“It is now time to respond to these efforts that were hard to agree to,” Moon said. “We need to assure Kim Jong Un that he took the right decision in deciding to denuclearize and we need to accompany him in his wish for a durable and solid peace.”

Washington wants concrete action, such as a full disclosure of North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities, before meeting Pyongyang’s demands, including an official end to the Korean war and the easing of international sanctions.

Moon said he hoped another Trump-Kim summit would allow the two leaders to go further than the statements they made at their first meeting in Singapore.

“Declaring an end to the Korea war would be a start to establishing a regime of peace,” he said, also calling for the United States to take “reliable corresponding measures to guarantee the security of the regime”.

“We could also in the future discuss the easing of sanctions, in accordance with progress on denuclearization,” he added.
 

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South Korea Mulls Boosting Support to North Korea Defectors – Ministry

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it planned to push back the deadline for North Korean defectors to claim housing and other types of benefits to three years. The cabinet approved the law change on Tuesday, the Yonhap news agency said. It still needs to be endorsed by the parliament.

North Korean defectors are currently required to tell authorities within a year after their arrival if they want to settle down in the country in order to receive full support.

Some 30,000 defectors from North Korea are living in the South. The outlet said 206 people have been unable to claim full benefits as of September after missing the one-year deadline.

The number of defectors has been steadily declining since 2012, soon after Kim came to power following his father's death, the Yonhap news agency reported last month.

According to the spokesman for the ruling South Korean Democratic Party who has cited data of the country's Unification Ministry, while over 2,700 North Korean citizens have fled the country in 2011, just over 1,500 people reached South Korea from the north in 2012. In 2017, the number stood at 1,127, and only 703 people have defected from North Korea in 2018 as of August.

The Yonhap news agency suggested that North Koreans might be discouraged from defecting from their country because of stricter border control on the North Korean-Chinese border and rising costs of hiring brokers.

Many North Koreans have been reportedly using China as a transit point on their way to South Korea.


Russian Foreign Ministry delegation arrives in North Korea

The Russian Foreign Ministry delegation has arrived in Pyongyang to hold negotiations with representatives for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"A delegation of the Department of International Organizations of the Russian Foreign Ministry led by Deputy Director Mikael Agasandian arrived here on Monday," the KCNA reported.

According to the agency, the visit of the Russian diplomats to Pyongyang will last until Friday. A number of meetings with management representatives for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs are to be held during the visit.
 

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October 25, 2018 - North and South Korea agree to scrap 22 Guard Posts at Boarder next month
North and South Korea agree to scrap 22 guard posts at border next month | Reuters


FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un acknowledges the audience after watching the performance titled "The Glorious Country" at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 19, 2018. Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool via REUTERS

North and South Korea agreed on Friday to "completely destroy" by next month 22 guard posts near their heavily fortified border, the latest advance in talks in the neighbors' effort to defuse military tension, Seoul's defense ministry said.

It follows a military pact at a summit last month in the North Korean capital that called for a halt to “all hostile acts,” a no-fly zone near the border and the gradual removal of guard posts, firearms and landmines from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two.

As an initial step, the neighbors agreed to demolish 11 guard posts within 1 km (0.6 mile) of each side of the border and withdraw equipment and personnel stationed there by the end of November, the ministry said.

“The measures will be finished through mutual verification in December,” it said in a statement.

The talks were led by South Korean Army Major General Kim Do-gyun and North Korean Lieutenant General An Ik San at the border village of Panmunjom within the DMZ.

Both sides also discussed reinstating a joint military commission and forming a combined team to survey watercourses in the Han River their commercial ships could share.

The two sides also completed the removal of guard posts and firearms within the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom on Thursday, the ministry said.

In another development, the South’s military said it would stage two military drills next week.

That came after an agreement last week by Seoul and Washington to halt the Vigilant Ace air defense drills planned for December so as to give nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea every opportunity to continue, the Pentagon has said.

The allies delayed August’s major annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises.

To maintain defense readiness and boost military cooperation, South Korea has decided to carry out the Taeguk and Hoguk drills, its Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The former is a command post exercise from Monday to Friday, while the latter is a field maneuver exercise that starts on Monday, centered on a river east of the capital, Seoul.

“This year’s exercise is to sustain balanced defense posture and improve the practice effects, considering the suspension of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian,” the JCS said in a statement, referring to the annual exercise in which 17,500 U.S. forces joined South Korean troops last year.

The defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States will meet in Washington on Wednesday for an annual security consultative meeting, where they are expected to formally announce the suspension of the Vigilant Ace drills.


22/10/2018 - Two Koreas, U.N. Forces agree to remove weapons at Border
Two Koreas, U.N. forces agree to remove weapons at border

North and South Korea and the U.N. Command agreed on Monday to withdraw firearms and guard posts in the demilitarised zone village of Panmunjom this week, Seoul's defence ministry said, the latest move in a fast-improving relationship.

The three sides held their second round of talks at Panmunjom to discuss ways to demilitarize the border in line with a recent inter-Korean pact reached at last month's summit in Pyongyang.

The U.S.-led UNC, which has overseen affairs in the DMZ since the end of hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War, was not immediately available for comment, but it said on Friday it supports the two Koreas' efforts to implement their military deal.

The announcement comes amid U.S. concerns that the inter-Korean military initiative could undermine defence readiness and comes without substantial progress on North Korea's promised denuclearization.

The neighbors are looking to withdraw 11 guard posts within a 1-km (0.6-mile) radius of the Military Demarcation Line on their border by the end of the year.

They also plan to pull out all firearms from a Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom and cut to 35 each the numbers of personnel stationed there and share information on surveillance equipment.

At Monday's meeting, the three sides agreed to remove firearms and guard posts from the JSA by Thursday, and carry out a joint inspection over the following two days, the ministry said.

The two Koreas have been removing landmines around the area as part of the agreement and they confirmed the completion of the demining operation at the talks with the UNC.

"We discussed the timeline of the pullout of firearms and guard posts, as well as ways to adjust the number of guard personnel and conduct joint inspections," the ministry said in a statement.

The agreement also includes a halt in "all hostile acts" and a no-fly zone around the border.

North and South Korea are technically still at war because the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, but relations have improved considerably in the last year.

After his third summit in Pyongyang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the North was ready to invite international experts to watch the dismantling of a key missile site and would close the main Yongbyon nuclear complex if Washington took reciprocal actions.

Those actions could include putting a formal end to the 1950-53 war, opening of a U.S. liaison office in North Korea, humanitarian aid and an exchange of economic experts, Moon said.

But Washington demands North Korea takes irreversible steps to scrap its arsenal, such as a full disclosure of nuclear facilities and material.


October 25, 2018 - North Korean General gets warm Welcome in China as ties improve
North Korean general gets warm welcome in China as ties improve | Reuters


North Korea's Vice Minister of the People's Armed Forces Kim Hyong Ryong (2-R) speaks with Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez (L) at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, China October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

A North Korean general got a warm welcome in Beijing on Thursday, a rare high-profile showing at an international military forum by his normally reclusive country, underscoring an improvement in ties with China and the world.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump held a landmark summit in Singapore in June as they both look to set aside decades of hostility and bring peace to the Korean peninsula.

The two Koreas have also held three summits this year, while Kim has also met Chinese President Xi Jinping three times in 2018.

Attending the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, which China styles as its answer to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore, Kim Hyong Ryong, vice minister of North Korea’s People’s Armed Forces, was greeted warmly by other attendees, including Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Addressing the forum, Kim said peace was the priority.

“Until only a year ago, the danger of military conflict lingered on the Korean Peninsula but today we are witnessing a series of events beyond all our expectations giving rise to the warm atmosphere of reconciliation, unity and peace,” he said, in comments translated into English.

“Today’s dramatic reality of the Korean Peninsula is the fruition of chairman Kim Jong Un’s determination and bold decision to turn the Korean Peninsula into a cradle of peace without any nuclear weapons or nuclear threats and achieve national reunification,” Kim said.

Chinese state media said it was the first time a North Korean general had attended the forum, which senior Western officials are traditionally largely absent from.

Kim said North Korea was making “sincere efforts” to successfully implement agreements reached by leader Kim and Trump in Singapore.

That summit was an “event of epochal significance” putting an end to their hostility and opening up a new chapter in ties, he said.

North Korea wants to turn the peninsula into a “cradle for peace and prosperity that contributes to the security of Asia and the globe by thoroughly implementing the DPRK-US joint statement”, Kim added, referring to his country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The important reason the DPRK put forward a new strategic policy line of concentrating all efforts on socialist economic construction is to contribute to peace and stability of the region and the whole world,” he said.

“The DPRK will continue to fulfil its obligations and role in order to ease tensions and achieve stable peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
 

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Beijing Warns US Against 'Showing Off Force' in S China Sea

The remarks came after a US Pacific Fleet spokesperson said in late September that a Chinese destroyer had allegedly approached the USS Decatur in an "unsafe and unprofessional maneuver", which prompted the US warship to maneuver so as to prevent a collision.

Chief of US naval operations Admiral John Richardson has stated that a recent dangerous sail-by of a Chinese destroyer near an American warship in the South China Sea would not stop the US Navy from patrolling the area.

"We will continue to progress this program of freedom of navigation operations. We do dozens of these operations around the world to indicate our position for […] illegitimate claims, maritime claims," Richardson underscored.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded by referring to some "non-regional countries" which he said fuel tensions by "showing off their force" in the disputed waters.

"We shall work together to be vigilant against and prevent interferences and disruptions coming from the outside as China and the Philippines and other littoral states of the South China Sea are cooperating to uphold peace and cooperation," he pointed out.

In a nod to bilateral telephone communication hotlines approved by the Chinese and Philippine coast guards, Wang noted that "mechanisms of this kind can effectively avoid misjudgment and prevent unexpected incidents" in the disputed areas.

He signaled Beijing's readiness to create such mechanisms "with other claimant states so as to enhance communication and timely handle the emergencies should they happen."

In late September, the US Pacific Fleet slammed what it described as an "unsafe and unprofessional maneuver" of a Chinese destroyer which came close to the US Decatur near Gaven Reef in the South China Sea and finally forced the US warship to maneuver in order to prevent a collision.

The Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea remain the most frequently disputed territories claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The US has repeatedly expressed concern about China's construction of industrial outposts and military facilities on artificial islands in the South China Sea, where US Navy ships conduct "freedom of navigation" operations.

In response, the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged Washington to stop such "provocative" actions, which Beijing said pose a "threat to its sovereignty."


China's President Orders Military To "Prepare For War"

China's President Xi Jinping ordered the military region responsible for monitoring the South China Sea and Taiwan to "assess the situation it is facing and boost its capabilities so it can handle any emergency" as tensions continue to mount over the future of the South China Sea and Taiwan, while diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing hit rock bottom.

The Southern Theatre Command has had to bear a “heavy military responsibility” in recent years, state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying during an inspection tour made on Thursday as part of his visit to Guangdong province.

“It’s necessary to strengthen the mission … and concentrate preparations for fighting a war,” Xi said. “We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly. “We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war” the president-for-life added.

According to the South China Morning Post, Xi’s visit to the military command was one of several he made during a four-day trip to the south China province aimed at bolstering confidence amid an economic slowdown, and growing trade and strategic disputes with the United States.

Xinhua reports President Xi “stressed the need to focus on combat research and commanding, to advance work in all areas and accelerate developing strong and efficient joint-operation commanding institutions for theatre commands to comprehensively boost the military’s battle-winning ability.”

The president instructed the military to ramp-up opposition to ‘freedom of navigation’ exercises being undertaken by the US, Australia, France, the UK, Japan and others through the waterway through which arterial shipping lanes have grown since the end of World War II.

“He ordered the troop to keep a close watch for changes in the situations and to strengthen analysis to firmly protect border stability and safety of the people’s life and property,” Xinhua reported Xi as saying.

“After hearing a report on their work, he underlined the importance of preparing for war and combat, while taking consideration of various complex situations, improving response plans and focusing on real-combat training.”

Xi’s words represent a significant ramp-up in the rhetoric between Beijing and Washington. China has been angered by US sanctions on its military for buying weapons from Russia, and by what Beijing sees as renewed Washington support for democratic Taiwan. Earlier this month, US Vice-President Mike Pence took the tensions between Washington and Beijing to a new level: “Using that stolen technology, the Chinese Communist Party is turning ploughshares into swords on a massive scale,” he said.

Meanwhile, the US recently sailed two warships through the Taiwan strait, claiming "freedom of navigation", and further angering China.

* * *

According to Australia's News.com.au, President Xi was not the only ruling Communist Party member to up the ant last week. State Councillor General and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said that Beijing would never give up “one single piece” of its territory. He warned that “repeated challenges” to China’s sovereignty over Taiwan would lead to military action.

As for Xi's surprisingly sharp warning, the SCMP quoted military observers as saying President Xi’s words were likely aimed at an internal audience, boosting morale in the face of growing economic and international pressures.

“It’s likely intended as a signal to the US in particular and any parties that Beijing perceives to be causing provocation,” Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said.​

That said, the Beijing-based military analyst said he expected further clashes to come in the South China Sea.

“The United States is expected to conduct more freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea region, and because it does not recognise (Beijing’s) rights to artificial islands, like Mischief Reef, there will probably be more military friction between the two countries there,” the Post quoted him as saying.​

Earlier this month a Chinese destroyer almost rammed a US warship in an effort to force it to leave disputed waters. Shortly after the event, the Chinese defense ministry criticised the US for “gravely threatening China’s sovereignty and security, severely damaging relations between the two militaries and significantly undermining regional peace and stability”.

Last week, China’s Foreign Ministry said it had ‘expressed concern’ at the recent passage of two US warships through the narrow water way between China and Taiwan.

“China has closely followed the passing of US warships through the Taiwan Strait and monitored the whole process,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said. “We urge the US to strictly abide by the three China-US joint communiques and properly handle Taiwan-related issues so as to avoid impairing bilateral relations as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."

So far any and all Chinese warnings and threats have fallen on deaf ears.

 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
On Monday, the New York Times reported that South Korean President Moon Jae-in is succeeding where all of his predecessors have failed — in engaging North Korea and convincing the country to give up its nuclear weapons program.

31.10.2018 - 'Horrendous': New York Times attacks Inter-Korean Peace Process
‘Horrendous’: New York Times Attacks Inter-Korean Peace Process

However, the article isn't complimentary, quoting a South Korean newspaper that claimed Moon is Kim Jong Un's most effective spokesperson.

The New Times article also quotes an American think tank analyst stating that Moon is a "bad moon on the rise," quoting an old Creedence Clearwater Revival song.

Simone Chun, a fellow at the Korea Policy Institute and a member of the Korean Peace Network, joined Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear Tuesday to discuss how the US corporate media continues to attack the historic progress towards peace on the Korean Peninsula.

"What this article is suggesting is that Kim Jong Un is either manipulating Moon Jae-in or Moon Jae-in is the unwitting fool falling for deception," Becker said.

"In the article, they even describe Moon Jae-in as ‘the agent of North Korea.' It's a very carefully crafted editorial position designed to sabotage Moon Jae-in's effort to bring about peace on the Korean peninsula," Becker added.

In September, North and South Korea signed a joint agreement, proclaiming an end to the state of war. The two nations agreed to cease large-scale artillery exercises and military flights near the demarcation line and make efforts to denuclearize the peninsula.

However, according to the New York Times article, "[A]s Mr. Moon has pushed to deepen ties with Pyongyang, the backlash from his critics has been swift. A major South Korean newspaper this month called him the ‘chief spokesman for Kim Jong-un,' and an American commentator, quoting Creedence Clearwater Revival, recently referred to him as a ‘bad Moon on the rise.'"

"If Mr. Kim wanted to change his image from nuclear madman to mature negotiator, it's unlikely he could have found a better agent than Mr. Moon," the article stated.

The South Korean newspaper being referenced is chosun.com, "one of the most right-wing newspapers in South Korea--and, according to a recent poll, the least trusted media," Chun told Radio Sputnik. The Creedence Clearwater quotation comes from Gordon Chang, a "notorious right wing" columnist, she added.

"It is a shame [that the] New York Times is giving a platform for the very ultra right-wing and minority voices who are afraid of [the] Korean peace process and who are trying to sabotage the current peace talks," Chun told Sputnik.

"Based on these two sources [cited by the New York Times], there isn't much credibility on this particular article. The image they create is that president Moon is somehow a spokesperson for Chairman Kim. Nine out of 10 Koreans in recent polls support the peace process. I would argue that it's the Korean people [themselves] who are behind the peace process. The big picture, you see here, is a growing, orchestrated chorus of America's right wing think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation and CSIS, in conjunction with the minority voices in South Korea, who are now in the process of sabotaging and trying to discredit Moon. I think it is very important to, as your media [Sputnik] is doing, respond to this horrendous claims," Chun added.

"If this peace plan between the two Koreans has the support of 90 percent of the Korean people and is going so well for Donald Trump, a Republican president, why would the New York Times place an article like that?" Kirikou asked.

"This is a propaganda piece that found its way into the New York Times," he added.

"The author of the [New York Times] article is actually Korean," Chun responded, also adding that the author has taken conservative viewpoint when it comes to foreign policy over recent years.

"The New York Times, when it comes to foreign policy, has often taken a conservative position" as well, Chun added.

Last week, Seoul, Pyongyang and the UN Command (UNC) on Monday agreed to withdraw firearms and military posts from the village of Panmunjom, known as the Joint Security Area, in the Demilitarized Zone, in what Chun called a "historic attempt" that reveals that the "two Koreas are very determined [to make peace.]"

"The two Koreas and the UNC agreed to take measures of withdrawing firearms and military posts from the JSA by October 25, and for the following two days, the three parties will conduct a joint verification," the South Korean Ministry's of National Defense news release said, according to the Yonhap news agency.

In June, Kim also reached an agreement with US President Donald Trump, stipulating that North Korea would make efforts to promote complete denuclearization of the peninsula in exchange for freezing US-South Korean military drills and a potential removal of US sanctions.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
2018-11-01 - The Korean Peace Process is Now Irreversible
The Korean Peace Process is Now Irreversible - Eurasia Future

While the United States continues to frame the Korean peace process in terms of de-militarization, a far more important aspect of the process is the political, cultural and physical reconciliation of the two Korean states. It is helpful to remember that while an artificially divided Germany formally united in 1990, it was not until 1994 that (post) Soviet troops left the former East Germany. In this sense there is a clear parallel to the Korean peace process in which the will among a common people on both sides of a politically divided border are rapidly accelerating their connectivity in the midst of a prolonged but still rapidly advancing de-militarization process.

On the 9th of November 1989 after East German authorities made an announcement that appeared to even surprise Günter Schabowski, the official tasked with announcing it, the divisions in Germany as a whole and in the city of Berlin began to disappear before the world’s eyes. On the 9th of November, all travel restrictions between a divided Berlin were to be lifted. Hours later, the Berlin Wall was torn down and what was once believed to be impossible became the inevitable – a divided Berlin and a divided Germany reunited. The history of modern Europe was consequently changed within a matter of hours.

With the 29th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s demise just days away, a divided Korean people have just experienced something at least partly akin to their November 1989 moment. Today, the DPRK (North Korea) and South Korea have announced an end to all hostilities on the border between the two states. According to a report from China’s Xinhua,

“South Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday stopped all hostile acts in border area as agreed upon in the military agreement, signed by defense chiefs of the two Koreas during the Pyongyang summit in September, according to Seoul’s defense ministry.

The ministry said in a press release that the military authorities of the two Koreas would stop all hostile acts against each other on land, in waters and the air as of 12 a.m. local time Thursday (1500 GMT Wednesday) in accordance with the comprehensive military agreement.

The military agreement was signed on Sept. 19 in Pyongyang on the sidelines of the third summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and top DRRK leader Kim Jong Un.

Under the agreement, the two sides would stop the live-fire artillery drills and the field maneuvering exercises by regiment or bigger units within the 5-km border areas from the military demarcation line (MDL) dividing the Korean Peninsula.

The operation of drones, helicopters and other aircraft would be banned over the border areas up to 40 km away from the MDL.

The live-fire coastline artillery drills and the maritime maneuvering exercises would be prohibited in maritime buffer zones in the eastern and western waters.

The Seoul ministry said the DPRK side officially expressed its willingness to implement the military agreement during the general-grade military talks on Oct. 26.

The DPRK military was implementing the agreement given the recent closure of coastline artilleries in the western waters, according to the Seoul ministry”.

It has further been announced by companies offering foreigners guided tours of the DPRK that for the first time in post-1945 history, ordinary tourists will be able to cross over from the DPRK into the Panmunjom peace village south of the border where DPRK Chairman Kim Jong-un first met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in earlier this year. As travel agencies are responsible for the safety of tourists, it is clear that any fear of a re-militarized situation between North and South is of little worry. While the two Korean states are still separate states, an irreversible process has begun which has clear parallels to Germany in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Today’s events naturally take some of the wind of out America’s sails as they attest to an attitude in South Korea that is far more eager to implement further connectivity measures with the DPRK than US officials appear to be. After South Korean officials moved to endorse a joint Chinese-Russian plan to formally request that the UN Security Council lift some sanctions on the DPRK, it became all too clear that when it comes to Korean unification, Asia is speaking with a singular voice and that voice is arguing for a more rapid rapprochement between Pyongyang and Seoul.

While yesterday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reported that Kim Jong-un had told him that he is prepared to allow US weapons inspectors into former nuclear testing sites to verify their dismantling, this revelation is far less significant than that coming from Korea regarding the 38th parallel. The announcement that the two Korean states are formally renouncing hostilities in the de-militarized zone dividing the Korean peninsula means that a border region far more fortified than that the formerly divided Berlin is now going to be a place where tourism, diplomatic and cultural exchange can take place in a harmonious and exciting atmosphere.

While the US has yet to endorse or even offer a significant response to the Chinese-Russian and joint Korean call for a partial lifting of sanctions on the DPRK, events on the ground in Korea are rapidly outpacing developments in Washington that have thus far sought a slow and steady peace process dictated on American terms.

This too is not surprising. In the late 1980s, Ronald Reagan and later George W. Bush’s United States were far more eager to see Germany re-unite than was Britain under Margaret Thatcher. The reasons behind this had little to do with American altruism towards the German people but had more to do with Washington seeing a united German as being a political bulwark against a Soviet Union that most minds throughout the global west still throughout would not collapse as it ultimately did a year after Germany reunited. By contrast, Margret Thatcher whose early life was shaped by Britain’s participation in the Second World War, continued to be suspicious of a united Germany.

Ultimately though, Germany reunited largely of its own volition and by the time what remained of the last Soviet/Russian troops withdrew in 1994, the matter was more of a symbolic formality than anything else. In Korea, a United States that in the 1940s refused to allow for reunification out of fear that such a singular Korean state would be ruled by a Communist party, is now paradoxically worried that a more interconnected Korea might result in the loss of American influence in the peninsula just as a united Germany resulted in Russia losing influence in central and eastern Europe. Today, it is not Chinese or Russian troops who sit in Korean waiting for the “next war” but rather it is over 23,000 US troops who sit in South Korea prepared to fight a war that no one in Asia wants or is willing to fight.

In this sense, the position of the US in today’s Korean is akin to a hybrid of the Soviet and British position of 1990. While the Soviets clearly did not want to lose influence in Europe, there was little that could be done to slow the momentum of political change in mainland Europe. Likewise, the objections of the openly Germanophobic British Premier proved not to carry much weight in spite of her close relations with America. Furthermore, while elements of the so-called US deep state including the hawkish US National Security Adviser John Bolton appear to want to prolong the peace process, the business minded Donald Trump clearly wants the US private sector to have a piece of the tantalizing Korean economic pie that will be served as soon as the spirit of economic openness that the DPRK is already preparing for becomes a matter of fact rather than a matter of policy.

On the whole however, the US is being more stubborn regarding Korea than the Soviet Union was in respect of Germany and other central and eastern European states with a post-1945 Soviet military presence. Be that as it may, just as the wider world tended to support German reunification in the 1990s, today even more of the world supports Korean steps to adopt something akin to a ‘One Country–Two Systems’ model that has defined post-colonial Hong Kong and Macao’s relations with the rest of China.

But just as the events in 1989 in Europe moved faster than either the Communist factions of the region or Britain’s anti-Communist Prime Minister wanted, so too does it appear that the movement towards peace and reconciliation in Korea is moving faster than anyone including the United States can control.

While there is little doubt that the Korean peninsula will be de-militarized as the US and others want, what’s even more important is that economic, human and cultural re-connectivity will likely happen long before the last nuclear weapon is disposed of. While sceptics will naturally disagree with this assessment, one must never forget that the majority of voices in the late 1989s and early 1990s were sceptical about the rapidly changing realities in Europe. They were proved wrong then and similar voices will likely be proved wrong in respect of Korea in the very near future.


October 31, 2018 - No-fly zone, military drill ban near Korea Border take effect
No-fly zone, military drill ban near Korea border take effect | Reuters

A no-fly zone and a ban on military drills near the heavily fortified border between North and South Korea came into effect on Thursday as the once uneasy neighbors push to further defuse tensions.

The measures were part of a military accord inked during last month’s inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang, which includes a halt in “all hostile acts,” and a gradual removal of landmines and guard posts within the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).

The United States has raised concerns that the deal could undercut defense readiness amid tardy progress on North Korea’s denuclearisation, though it displayed support at an annual security consultative meeting of defense ministers on Wednesday in Washington.

“The South and the North completely removed dangers of military clash through the military agreement,” South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in told the parliament on Thursday.

“The two Koreas and the United States will achieve complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and lasting peace based on firm trust.”

North Korea has also taken steps toward the pact, such as covering artillery deployed along the skirmish-prone western shore, Seoul’s defense ministry said.

The no-fly zone extends 40 kms (25 miles) north and south from the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) in the east and 20 kms (12 miles) in the west for fixed-wing aircraft.

The agreement also bars live-fire drills involving fixed-wing aircraft and air-to-ground guided weapons in the no-fly area. South Korea and the United States had held such drills regularly until halting joint exercises in June.

There are different restrictions on helicopters, drones and balloons, with exemptions for commercial and non-military operations such as medical, disaster and agricultural uses.

“We will thoroughly verify the North side’s implementation of the agreement, including its movement on military exercises around the MDL and whether it complies with the no-fly zone,” the South’s defense ministry said in a statement.

The no-fly zone was a key sticking point for Washington because it would effectively bar close air support drills, in which airplanes provide firepower for troops who may be operating near enemy forces.

The allies agreed to halt the Vigilant Ace air defense drills set for December in a move to spur nuclear talks with Pyongyang, while South Korea said it kicked off two military exercises on Monday outside the banned area.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to work toward denuclearisation during his historic June summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. But Pyongyang’s actions have fallen short of U.S. demands for irreversible steps to scrap its arsenal, including a full disclosure of nuclear facilities and materials.

South Korea’s spy agency said North Korea was preparing for international inspections at some of its nuclear and missile test sites, the Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he planned to meet his North Korean counterpart next week.
 

sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Cuban leader arrives in North Korea on a state visit

President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez has arrived in North Korea on a state visit. The plane of the Cuban leader landed at the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport, a TASS correspondent reported.

The head of Cuba and his spouse were met by North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, and his wife. The leaders and their spouses shook hands.

The official talks of the two leaders are scheduled for November 5. The program of the visit of the Cuban guest to Pyongyang also includes a meeting with President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea Kim Yong Nam.

As the Cuban press reported ahead of the visit of Diaz-Kanel to Pyongyang, the talks will focus on the interaction of Cuba and the DPRK in international organizations, including the UN. The two countries have a long history of friendship and close political cooperation. In particular, Cuba supports the abolition of international sanctions against the DPRK, and the unification of the North and the South into a single Korean state without foreign intervention.


North Korea Threatens to Revive Nuke Program Over US Sanctions

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier said that sanctions will stay in place until Pyongyang shows its commitment to the process of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

A recent statement by the North Korean Foreign Ministry has said the country may shift back to its policy of "pyongjin", suggesting equal development of the economy and nuclear armaments, if the US does not change its approach and keeps up its sanctions against Pyongyang, AP reported. At present, the DPRK maintains a policy of directing all the country's efforts toward economic development while freezing its nuclear program.

The statement noted that "improvement of relations and sanctions" are two incompatible things and urged Washington to lift economic sanctions in response to the DPRK's "proactive and good-will measures" of unilaterally halting nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles tests.

"If the US keeps behaving arrogantly without showing any change in its stand, while failing to properly understand our repeated demand, the DPRK may add one thing to the state policy for directing all efforts to the economic construction. The word 'pyongjin' may appear again," the statement said.

In an interview on November 2, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington will continue to exert economic pressure on the DPRK until Kim Jong-un fulfills commitments made by him to US President Donald Trump during their joint summit in June. Pompeo also shared that he is planning on meeting his North Korean counterpart in the near future, but hasn't specified when or what the agenda for such a meeting would be.

This is not the first time North Korea has warned the US that denuclearization won't work unilaterally. At the end of September 2018, Pyongyang urged the US to take "simultaneous gradual steps," saying that the principle of "denuclearization first" in combination with economic coercion only "increases [North Korea's] distrust."

Since the DPRK committed itself to abandoning its nuclear armaments research several media reports have suggested that in fact it never did so. This information has never been confirmed by either the US or the DPRK.

The US president and the DPRK's leader met at the Singapore summit in June 2018 to discuss relations between the two countries. The two agreed to start the process of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for guarantees of safety for the DPRK and lifting of economic sanctions.


S Korea, US to Resume Drills Halted to Foster Peace With Pyongyang - Reports

On November 5, South Korea and the United States will resume regular joint drills under the Korea Marine Exercise Program (KMEP), suspended since May, in order to give way to a diplomatic settlement of the North Korean crisis, the Yonhap news agency reported.

According to the Yonhap news agency, the KMEP drills will last two weeks off the South Korean city of Pohang.

The parties plan to hold 24 rounds of the exercise until September next year, the media added.

The report comes a day after North Korea threatened to revive the nuclear program unless Washington lifts economic sanctions against the DPRK.

South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis decided earlier in October to suspend the Vigilant Ace military exercise scheduled for later this year in order to enable the diplomatic process with North Korea to continue.

The long-standing tensions on the Korean Peninsula started to ease after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed his commitment to denuclearize the country, and held historic summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump earlier in the year.

Pyongyang secured Washington's commitment to suspend US-South Korean drills in exchange for a promise to conduct denuclearization of the peninsula. However, the settlement has somewhat slowed down over the past several months.


US, Japan Plan Armed Response to "Chinese Threat" to Disputed Islands – Reports

Japan and the United States are currently holding the biggest joint drills in Japanese history, Keen Sword, having reportedly mobilized about 57,000 marines, sailors, and airmen.

The United States and Japan plan to devise an operations plan for a joint response by their armed forces to potential Chinese threats to the disputed Senkaku Islands (known as Diaoyu in China), The Japan Times reported, citing unnamed government sources.

The two nations are reportedly engaged in discussions on how to respond in emergency scenarios around the group of uninhabited islands, claimed both by Japan and China, in the East China Sea. According to insiders, Tokyo and Washington seek to finish work on the plan by next March.

While Washington has not taken a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the contested islands, President Donald Trump told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last year that the US was committed to defending Tokyo under Article 5 of the two nations’ security treaty, adding that it also covered the Senkaku Islands.

The Japan Times reported that by crafting a plan to handle a potential armed conflict with China, Tokyo hopes that Washington will determine its position on the sovereignty issue.

The sources told the media outlet that the plan suggested deploying Japan’s Self-Defense Forces in the event of such an emergency as armed Chinese fishermen landing on the islands – after the police are incapable of providing an adequate response.

The talks between the two countries have been taking place within the framework of the 2015 US-Japan defense guidelines, known as the Bilateral Planning Mechanism (BPM).

Under the BPM, the Self-Defense Forces and the US military would “conduct bilateral operations to counter ground attacks against Japan by ground, air, maritime, or amphibious forces.”

In a parallel development, the two nations are holding major joint war games to increase combat readiness and interoperability of US and Japanese Forces.

Tokyo and Washington have reportedly mobilized about 57,000 sailors, marines and airmen for the Keen Sword exercise, joined by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to lead Japanese destroyers and Canadian warships in the drills.

Japan and China both claim the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, called the Diaoyu Islands in Chinese, in the East China Sea. While Beijing says that they have been part of its territory since antiquity, Tokyo argues that the archipelago has been under its control since 1895.


US carrier leads warships in biggest ever Japan war game

The United States and Japan have continued with the biggest combat readiness exercise ever staged in and around Japan.

The nuclear powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier joined Japanese destroyers on Saturday to take part in Keen Sword, a joint military exercise aimed to increase combat readiness and interoperability between the two forces.

The biennial exercise, which kicked off on Wednesday and runs until November 9 and includes a total of 57,000 personnel, involves all three branches of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, as well as the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

"Keen Sword will give U.S. and Japanese forces an opportunity to practice critical air, maritime and amphibious capabilities essential for Japan’s defense and for regional security," claimed Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, commander of US Forces Japan.

Martinez said the exercise is a show of US-Japan joint force in the regional waters. "Just as important, the exercise is a visible demonstration of the strength and durability of the US-Japan alliance and our shared pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific region."

A Canadian naval supply ship is also taking part in the drill.

Canadian participation is taking a bilateral drill “into the realm of multilateral exercises,” Canada’s defense attache in Japan, Captain Hugues Canuel said in Tokyo.

Participation in the event, launched for the first time in 1986, reflects the Canadian government goal to extend its military presence in Asian waters, he added.

Analysts predict that the US and its allies were preparing for a major military confrontation with China.

The US reportedly wants to stop what it sees as China’s military expansion in the East and South China Seas.

China has repeatedly warned the US against extending it military presence in Asia, describing US military presence as a source of regional instability.
 

sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
China's import expo opens, Xi urges building an open world economy

CIIE.jpg
Chinese President Xi Jinping takes group photos with foreign leaders before the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai, east China, Nov. 5, 2018.(Xinhua/Ding Haitao)

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the opening of the world's first import-themed national-level expo in Shanghai on Monday, calling it a "trail-blazing" move in the history of international trade development.

A total of 172 countries, regions and international organizations from five continents will showcase their development achievements and international image at the first China International Import Expo (CIIE).

More than 3,600 companies from different countries will hold discussions and seek common development with over 400,000 purchasers from China and overseas.

The CIIE is "a major policy for China to push for a new round of high-level opening-up and a major measure for China to take the initiative to open its market to the world," Xi said when delivering a keynote speech at the opening ceremony.

He again underscored the role of economic globalization, saying that it is "an irreversible historical trend" and provides strong momentum for world economic development.

"All countries should be committed to opening up and oppose protectionism and unilateralism in a clear-cut stand," Xi said, calling for joint efforts to build an open world economy.

In a time when the waves of protectionism and unilateralism are threatening global growth, the expo is expected to muster support for free trade and inject certainty to the world economy.

The fair will be the epitome of the global economy, with various quality exhibits ranging from German machine tools, Japanese robots and U.S. medical equipment to Australian wine, Brazilian farm produce and South Sudanese handicrafts.

With the slogan "New Era, Shared Future," the expo is the brainchild of Xi and is set to become a platform for win-win economic cooperation and a landmark project in the country's higher-level opening up.

China will stimulate the potential for increased imports, continue to broaden market access, foster a world-class business environment, explore new horizons of opening up, and promote international cooperation at multilateral and bilateral levels, Xi said.

"We are encouraged to hear from President Xi the reaffirmation of China's support of global trade, and China's plan to further open itself to the world," said Robert Aspell, president of Asia Pacific for the U.S. agribusiness company Cargill, which is an exhibitor at the CIIE and has already decided to participate in the second expo.

"This is a great start of the first CIIE," Aspell said.

The inaugural expo comes at an inflection point as China transitions to high-quality development and shifts from the world's workshop to the world's market, with the world's biggest middle-income population demanding higher-quality consumer products.

Xi announced Monday China's imported goods and services were estimated to exceed 30 trillion U.S. dollars and 10 trillion U.S. dollars, respectively, in the next 15 years. China has been the world's second largest merchandise importer for nine consecutive years.

Joseph Boahen Aidoo, chief executive of Ghana's cocoa industry regulator Cocoa Board, expressed hope that the fair would open a new chapter in the west African country's cocoa exports.

"We believe that we can expand our market horizons in China. We are talking about 1.3 billion people, and even if we can get one percent of that market, it is very huge. So everybody is looking to China," Aidoo said.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up, and has seen a flurry of concrete measures taken by the country to open its doors wider.

"China will not close its door to the world and will only become more and more open," Xi said.


Xi Calls on World States to Resist Trade Protectionism Together

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the international community on Monday at the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) to resist trade protectionism and policy of unilateral actions together, avoiding confrontation.

"It is important that all the countries stay open and expand the space for mutually beneficial cooperation, as openness brings progress, while isolation results in underdevelopment… Countries should stand up against trade protectionism and the policy of unilateral actions, and try to increase the level of openness at the multilateral and the bilateral levels," Xi said.

He said that the interdependence of economic and social prosperity was currently increasing amid the rapidly changing international setup.

According to Xi, cooperation is necessary for facing current challenges and threats.

"As the global economy sees profound changes, protectionism and the unilateral actions policy are gaining momentum again, and the multilateralism and the multilateral trade system are menaced, since risks and challenges are constantly increasing," he said.

President Xi Jinping also said that China will import goods and services worth over $30 billion and $10 billion respectively in 15 years.

"It is expected that in the next 15 years, the volume of China's imported goods and services will exceed $30 billion and $10 billion respectively," Xi said.

He went on to say that the measures that he announced in April, aiming at facilitating access to the market, had been mostly implemented, as restrictions were being gradually lifted.

"China constantly promotes even greater openness of its financial sector, while it also maintains the openness of service industry, agriculture, production, telecommunications, culture, and healthcare," Xi added.

The CIIE, hosted by the Chinese Commerce Ministry and Shanghai Municipal People's Government, will last through November 10. The event will be attended by government officials, business officials, exhibitors and professional buyers from across the world. Over 2,800 companies are set to participate in the CIIE.


Medvedev arrives in Shanghai to meet with Xi Jinping

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has arrived in China’s Shanghai where he will stay on an official visit from November 5 to 7, the press service of the Russian government said on Sunday.

"On November 5, the Russian prime minister will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and will attend the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo (CIIE)," the press service said.

Xi Jinping announced plans to organize this exhibition in May 2017 when he took part in The Belt and The Way summit in Beijing. The exhibition will be held from November 5 through November 10, with more than 2,800 companies from 138 world nations expected to take part.

Along with the exhibition, Shanghai will host numerous sectoral forums, presentations and negotiations.


Russian Prime Minister calls for cooperation under new economic situation

Sanctions and the policy of protectionism have become a reality of the global economy, but there is a need to find new growth points and build an open space for mutually beneficial cooperation, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Monday.

Medvedev, who is on an official visit to China, pointed to the wide scope of the exhibition, which involves 130 countries eager to demonstrate their economic abilities and discuss the prospects for global trade.

"There is certainly a need to discuss them. We are facing common tasks - to find new sources of growth for global economy and create an open space for mutual cooperation, free of pressure, sanctions and protectionism, which unfortunately have become a reality of the global economy that we cannot turn a blind eye to," Medvedev said.

The Russian prime minister stressed that trade must be based on free competition and the free movement of goods, services, people and capital. Medvedev noted that it was the principles the both Russia and China abided by. "We welcome our Chinese colleagues’ commitment to long-term partnership and the establishment of trade ties mutually beneficial for all," Medvedev added.

On behalf of Russia, he thanked China for the invitation to take part in the exhibition as a partner country. The prime minister noted that the Shanghai event offered a good opportunity to show the potential of Russia’s economy. In this regard, Medvedev mentioned that
dozens of companies from 40 Russian regions were participating in the expo.



Russian Prime Minister welcomes financing in national currencies between Moscow, Beijing

Moscow and Beijing are doing the right thing boosting credit financing in national currencies, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Monday.

Medvedev, who is on an official visit to China, pointed out that relations between Russia and China were strong as never before.

"They don’t depend on the current economic and political situation as they are based on mutual respect, including that of each other’s interests," the Russian prime minister said. "It paves the way for the development of trade, economic and investment ties, as well as for the use of national currencies in trade. I believe it is a right thing to boost credit financing in yuans and rubles," Medvedev said, referring to investment projects.

Moreover, in his words, the use of national currencies "makes it possible to ensure stability of international economic relations and Russian-Chinese ties in a situation where reserve currencies are becoming a less reliable global trade tool.


Kim Jong-un may visit Russia in November, Seoul’s ambassador says

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may visit Russia in November, the Yonhap news agency reported on Monday, citing South Korean Ambassador to Moscow Woo Yoon-keun.

"Russia has requested that the visit take place before the end of the year," the ambassador said. "It seems, North Korea is thinking about the date, location and agenda of talks," he noted, adding that considering a number of circumstances, Kim Jong-un’s visit was very likely to take place in November.

Woo Yoon-keun also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was scheduled to make a visit to South Korea in the first half of 2019. According to the ambassador, Seoul and Moscow will start discussing preparations for the visit before the year ends.

He pointed out that South Korea and Russia also plan to launch negotiations on a free trade agreement. "Russia will become an important partner that will help Korea advance further in the [Eurasian] continent. There is a need to use Russia’s capabilities to the fullest, particularly given that bilateral relations have improved following President Moon Jae-in’s coming to power," the Yonhap agency quoted Woo Yoon-keun as saying.

Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said earlier following her visit to Pyongyang that the North Korean leader was willing to visit Russia in the near future. Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov confirmed that a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un may take place before the end of the year. On October 31, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia was under consideration.
 

Ant22

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Bravo Donald Trump for his contribution to denuclearisation of North Korea :rolleyes: The sanctions have been failing to achieve their objective but they did succeed in bringing both Koreas closer.


Fragile peace? N. Korea threatens to produce nukes again if US sanctions remain

Pyongyang may resume building up its nuclear arsenals if Washington’s economic sanctions remain in place, the reclusive state has said amid diplomatic bargaining over the future of Korean peace talks.

“If the US keeps behaving arrogant without showing any change in its stand,” North Korea may restart building up nuclear forces while also pushing for economic development, Pyongyang has said on Friday evening in a statement released by its state-run news agency.

North Korea is widely thought to have obtained enough weapons-grade plutonium to weaponize dozens of warheads. South Korea believes its northern neighbor may have developed 20 to 60 nuclear weapons, according to intelligence data cited by a top official in Seoul.

Earlier reports claimed that Pyongyang had at least eight bombs. At the peak of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the North boasted of having developed an advanced hydrogen bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the entire US mainland.

The Friday statement stopped just short of threatening to walk away from lingering talks with the US, but nonetheless said the “improvement of relations and sanctions is incompatible.” The issue of economic sanctions came to light again this Friday as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered his take on the upcoming actions towards Pyongyang.

Speaking on Fox News, Pompeo said that “we will keep the economic pressure in place until such time as Chairman Kim fulfills the commitment he made to President Trump back in June in Singapore.”

Simultaneously, he shed some light on the upcoming meeting with senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol next week, saying it will mostly revolve around a second summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un.

“The US thinks that its oft-repeated ‘sanctions and pressure’ leads to ‘denuclearization.’ We cannot help laughing at such a foolish idea,” the North Korean statement offered.

Restrictions against the North have added fuel to the simmering rift between Washington and Seoul. South Korea has offered financial and economic aid to the North once sanctions are lifted. President Moon Jae-in, for his part, promised that Seoul will help Pyongyang rebuild roads and railways as a first step to mend ties between the neighbors.

Moreover, South Korea has considered lifting its own economic sanctions designed to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. In early October, the South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha suggested Seoul was willing to lift the restrictions as a goodwill gesture towards the North.

South Korean plans have been given a sharp rebuke from the US. “They won’t do it without our approval. They do nothing without our approval,” Trump commented on Kang’s remarks. Officials in Washington have once again vowed to maintain a “maximum pressure” effort until the North denuclearizes.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Bravo Donald Trump for his contribution to denuclearization of North Korea :rolleyes: The sanctions have been failing to achieve their objective but they did succeed in bringing both Koreas closer.

Fragile peace? [URL='https://www.rt.com/news/443033-north-korea-nuclear-sanctions/'] N. Korea threatens to produce nukes again if US sanctions remain[/URL]


I think, all the press hype on "a fragile Peace with North Korea" is an exaggeration of the Pentagon's worse fear? North and South Korea are getting along just fine! While all the paid shrills and mouth pieces are screaming about "the denuclearization of North Korea" not one little peep about the Pentagon's [URL='https://www.upi.com/topic/THAAD/?tps=1']THAAD
battery on the South Korean peninsula? Wasn't the argument for the THAAD installation "to counter North Korea's Rocket man" (even though it's pointed in Russia's direction)? What about the recent investment of a multi-Billion dollar upgrade to the US Army Base, Camp Humphries in South Korea? What would happen to the other 14-15 US Military bases in S. Korea and the 28,000 or so U.S. Troops - if "Peace" were realistically proclaimed with the unification of both Korea's? What excuse is the Pentagon going to fabricate - in keeping a large Military presents in S. Korea?

July 11, 2017 - U.S. Army commander defends THAAD battery in South Korea
U.S. Army commander defends THAAD battery in South Korea

THAAD complements the presence of 28,000 U.S. troops and 625,000 active South Korean armed forces personnel, Vandal said, because the Kim Jong Un regime is developing not only ballistic missiles but also weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

THAAD also intercepts ballistic missiles launched from North Korea that could possibly target U.S. military bases in Japan or Guam.

The expansion of Camp Humphreys cost $10.7 billion. South Korea provided most of the funding and labor for the project, according to Stars and Stripes.


February 8, 2016 - Army base in South Korea gets multi-billion dollar makeover
https://federalnewsnetwork.com/pent...uth-korea-gets-multi-billion-dollar-makeover/

The military services have been dithering with Congress over if and where to reduce their real estate footprint. But there is one spot in the world where the Army is undergoing a major expansion in real estate. Camp Humphries, South Korea is undergoing a multi-billion dollar makeover. Army Assistant Secretary for Installations, Energy and Environment Katherine Hammack joined Pentagon Solutions with details of what’s going on and why.


List and description: US Military Bases (15) in South Korea
US Military Bases in South Korea |15 Bases | Military Bases
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