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Posts tagged ‘Korean Peninsula’

Kerry: China Willing to Pressure NKorea on Nukes.


Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday China is willing to exert more pressure to get North Korea to give up its nuclear program.

He told reporters in Beijing he was pleased that China “could not have more forcefully reiterated its commitment” to the goal of denuclearizing North Korea.

The reclusive Asian state has defied international warnings not to build atomic bombs and long-range missiles. It is believed to have enough fissile material to build up to 10 nuclear bombs, but most intelligence analysts say it has yet to master the technology to deploy such weapons.

“I encouraged the Chinese to use every tool at their disposal, all of the means of persuasion that they have, building on the depths of their long and historic and cultural and common history (with North Korea),” he said.

“They made it very clear that if the North doesn’t comply and come to the table and be serious about talks and stop its program … they are prepared to take additional steps in order to make sure their policy is implemented,” Kerry said, adding the United States and China were now discussing “the specifics of how you do that”.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry China would work with all parties concerned, including the United States, to play a constructive role for the region’s peace and stability.

“China will never allow chaos or war on the Korean Peninsula,” Wang said, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

North Korea was raised during Kerry’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Foreign Ministry said, with Xi “setting forth China’s stance”. It gave no other details.

The East and South China Seas featured prominently on Kerry’s agenda too, with him calling for a “more rule of law based, less confrontational regime”.

The United States is uneasy about what it sees as China’s effort to gain creeping control over waters in the Asia-Pacific region, including its Nov. 23 declaration of an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in an area of the East China Sea that includes islands at the centre of a dispute with Japan.

China claims about 90 percent of the 3.5 million square km (1.35 million square mile) South China Sea, depicting what it sees as its area on maps with a so-called nine-dash line, looping far out over the sea from south China.

China and the Association of South East Asian Nations have been discussing a code of conduct for the South China Sea, and Kerry said he believed China was ready to achieve that goal.

“That would help reduce tensions that stem from the territorial and maritime disputes and, in the meantime, it’s very important that everybody build crisis management tools and refrain from coercive or unilateral measures to assert whatever claims any country in the region may have,” he said.

Wang said China was committed to a peaceful resolution for both the East and South China Seas disputes, but urged the United States not take sides and said China had an “unshakable resolve” to protect its sovereignty.

The United States should “respect historical facts and China’s sovereign interests, adhere to an objective and impartial stance and take tangible actions to promote mutual trust in the region so as to safeguard regional peace and stability”, Wang said.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims over the South China Sea, or parts of it.

Kerry said he told China it would be a bad idea to establish an air defence identification zone in the South China Sea, similar to the one it set up over the East China Sea late last year, which prompted protests from Washington, Tokyo and Seoul.

“We have made it very clear that a unilateral, unannounced, unprocessed initiative like that can be very challenging to certain people in the region, and therefore to regional stability,” he said.

Wang said China was confident it could maintain peace in the South China Sea by working with ASEAN, and denounced efforts by “certain people internationally” to hype up tensions and “spread untruths”. “China is resolutely opposed to this,” Wang said, without elaborating.

Climate change was also on the agenda of Kerry’s talks.

“We need to see if working together we could identify any further steps that we may be able to take, specifically with respect to arrival at meaningful targets with respect to the 2015 climate change conference that will take place in Paris in December of next year,” Kerry said.

 

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

SKorea Calls for Reunions of Separated Families.


SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s president called on Monday for resuming reunions of families separated by war, expressing hopes that the humanitarian program would improve strained ties between the rival Koreas.

The call comes amid lingering tensions on the Korean Peninsula following Pyongyang’s fiery rhetoric and threats of nuclear wars last spring. The two Koreas had planned to hold family reunions in September for the first time in three years but Pyongyang cancelled them at the last minute.

President Park Geun-hye told a televised news conference that she wants the reunions to take place on the occasion of the Lunar New Year’s Day later this month to “heal wounded hearts.”

She said she hopes the two Koreas would find a new momentum for better ties with the reunions. She said her government plans to expand civilian exchanges with North Korea and approve the shipments of more humanitarian assistance to North Korea.

Millions of people have been separated since an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War has never been changed to a peace treaty. The reunions are highly emotional as most applicants are in their 70s or older and are eager to see their loved ones before they die. The two Koreas bar ordinary citizens from exchanging letters, phone calls or email.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week called for improved ties in his New Year’s Day speech that included a warning of a nuclear war. South Korean officials responded by saying North Korea must first take nuclear disarmament steps and questioned the sincerity of Kim’s overture.

North Korea issued similar conciliatory gestures in its New Year’s Day message last year before it conducted its third nuclear test in February and made a torrent of threats to launch nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington in the spring.

Park said that North Korea should act with sincerity. “Last year, North Korea talked about improvement in South-North Korean ties in its New Year’s Day message but you know very well how it acted in reality,” she said.

Yoo Ho-Yeol, a professor of North Korea studies at Korea University in South Korea, said the family reunions are a “litmus test” for improved ties between the two Koreas. He said the reunions, if realized, can lead to the resumption of other stalled inter-Korean cooperation projects.

Worries about North Korea have deepened after the execution of leader Kim’s once-powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek on treason charges last month, with Seoul officials saying Pyongyang may launch provocation to create tension to bolster internal unity.

Park said North Korea has become “more unpredictable” following Jang’s execution and that South Korea will study and brace for any possible scenarios.

She reiterated her position that she can meet Kim anytime if it’s necessary for promoting peace on the peninsula but talks must not be held for talks’ sake.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

SKorea: NKorea Can Launch Nuclear-Tipped Missiles.


SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea can now deliver a nuclear warhead on a missile, the South Korean Defense Ministry said in a report, contradicting the U.S. position that the country is years away from developing the technology.

“The security situation on the Korean Peninsula has now worsened as the North’s threat of nuclear missiles has become real,” according to the report, which was presented to a parliamentary committee on national security Tuesday and released by the office of lawmaker Kim Kwang Jin.

The new capability may embolden North Korea toward military provocation once the U.S. relinquishes its wartime command of South Korean troops in 2015, the report said. That command was given to the United States during the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea threatened first strikes against South Korea and the Uniited States  in March after a February nuclear test prompted tightened sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime.

The Obama administration, which has called on North Korea to renounce its nuclear program, has said the country didn’t have the ability to launch an atomic weapon on a missile.

Until 2010, the North was in an experimental stage with its nuclear missiles, and the country has now come to a point where it can actually use them, the report said.

The Defense Ministry didn’t explain how it reached its conclusion, and the study didn’t mention the ranges of the missiles that the North had the capability to mount weapons on.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Koreas Hope to Reopen Shared Factory Park.


SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korean delegates agreed on a desire to restart a stalled jointly run factory park after overnight talks that ended early Sunday, but they couldn’t immediately reach an accord to reopen the complex that had been a symbol of inter-Korean rapprochement.

The Kaesong industrial complex, just north of the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas, was the centerpiece of cross-border cooperation projects hatched during a previous era of warming ties. But it was closed in April as tensions rose between the rivals when North Korea angrily reacted to South Korea’s annual military exercises with the U.S. North Korea pulled its 53,000 workers out of the industrial park, and South Korea then ordered its managers to leave as well, against their wishes.

Tension later gradually eased after North Korea ratcheted down its warlike rhetoric. Officials of the two Koreas met last month and agreed to hold senior-level talks on Kaesong and other inter-Korean issues but the plan collapsed over a protocol dispute.

Representatives from the two sides met again on Saturday and Sunday at the border village of Panmunjom inside the DMZ and shared the view that operations at the park should be restarted, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry and Pyongyang’s state media.

The two Koreas “will make sure that the businesses in the (complex) will restart, depending on their preparations,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. The countries decided to meet again Wednesday at Kaesong to discuss the resumption of factory operations

South Korea’s Unification Ministry issued a near-identical statement.

South Korean media pool reports cited chief Seoul delegate Suh Ho as saying the two Koreas still had not had sufficient discussions on Kaesong’s restart, and plan to discuss the issue in follow-up talks. The Unification Ministry said it couldn’t confirm the report.

North Korea agreed to let South Korean factory managers visit Kaesong to retrieve products and supplies left at the complex, and inspect factory equipment from Wednesday to decrease possible damage ahead of the rainy season, according to the KCNA and the Unification Ministry.

The park, which brought together North Korean labor and South Korean capital, resulted in nearly $2 billion a year in cross-border trade before its shutdown. It was the last remaining joint project between the two Koreas as relations soured over the past five years.

As the park remained shuttered, South Korean businesses that operated in Kaesong sought rescue funds from the government. Some South Korean businesspeople who were forced to leave their Kaesong factories behind sent a message to government officials near the border city of Paju as they headed to the talks Saturday, holding placards that read “We want to work.”

The closure meant a loss of salary for tens of thousands of North Korean workers employed in factories run by 123 South Korean companies, and a loss of goods and orders for business managers who relied on Kaesong to churn out everything from shoes and watches to cables and electrical components.

The Korean Peninsula still officially remains at war because their 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

China: Hopes NKorea Envoy Visit Can Help Rid Peninsula of Nukes.


BEIJING — China hopes that this week’s visit by a senior North Korean envoy can ease tension in the region and help spur efforts to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday.

Choe Ryong Hae, a special envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, met Chinese officials in the highest-ranking visit by an official from Pyongyang in about six months.

“We hope that this visit can ameliorate the present tension on the Korean peninsula and give new impetus to pushing for the denuclearization of the peninsula,” ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing.

On Friday, Choe met General Fan Chonglong, vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, who warned Choe about tension on the peninsula threatening peace.

“In recent years, the state of affairs around the Korean peninsula nuclear issue frequently turns into one escalation of tensions after another,” China’s Xinhua state news agency cited Fan as saying.

“The conflicting strategies of all parties have intensified, jeopardizing peace,” Fan said.

Choe responded by saying peace could not be assured although North Korea wanted it in order to build the country, and it was willing to work with all sides in solving problems.

“The situation on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia is complex and extraordinary, and there is no guarantee of peace,” Xinhua cited Choe as saying.

“The North Korean people need a peaceful and stable environment to build their country,” Choe was quoted as saying. “The North Korean side wishes to work together with all parties and, through dialog, seek a means to resolve the problem.”

On Thursday, Choe told another senior Chinese official that North Korea was willing to return to talks, although the prospect for those in the near future is dim.

Tension has been mounting between North Korea and China even though China is the North’s most important economic and political backer.

Ties have been hurt between the two supposed allies by the North’s third nuclear test in February, despite China’s disapproval, and by China agreeing to U.N. sanctions on the North in response and starting to put a squeeze on North Korean banks.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

NKorea Fires Three Short-Range Missiles in Possible Drill.


SEOUL, South Korea  — North Korea fired three short-range missiles from its east coast on Saturday, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said, but the purpose of the launches was unknown.

Launches by the North of short-term missiles are not uncommon, but the ministry would not speculate whether these latest launches were part of a test or training exercise.

“North Korea fired short-range guided missiles twice in the morning and once in the afternoon off its east coast,” an official at the South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman’s office said by telephone.

The official said he would not speculate on whether the missiles were fired as part of a drill or training exercise.

“In case of any provocation, the ministry will keep monitoring the situation and remain on alert,” he said.

A Japanese government source, quoted by Kyodo news agency, noted the three launches, but said none of the missiles landed in Japan’s territorial waters.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has subsided in the past month after running high for several weeks following the imposition of tougher U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang following its third nuclear test in February.

The North had for weeks issued nearly daily warnings of impending nuclear war with the South and the United States.

North Korea conducts regular launches of its Scud short-range missiles, which can hit targets in South Korea.

It conducted a successful launch of a long-range missile last December, saying it put a weather satellite into orbit. The United States and its allies denounced the launch as a test of technology that could one day deliver a nuclear warhead.

During the weeks of high tension, South Korea reported that the North had moved missile launchers into place on its east coast for a possible launch of a medium-range Musudan missile. The Musudan has a range of more than 2,100 miles, putting Japan in range and possibly the U.S. South Pacific island of Guam.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

North Korea Demands Recognition as Nuclear Arms State.


SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea demanded on Tuesday that it be recognized as a nuclear weapons state, rejecting a U.S. condition that it agree to give up its nuclear arms program before talks can begin.

After weeks of tension on the Korean peninsula, including North Korean threats of nuclear war, the North has in recent days begun to at least talk about dialogue in response to calls for talks from both the United States and South Korea.

The North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper rejected as groundless and unacceptable the U.S. and South Korean condition that it agrees to dismantle its nuclear weapons and suspend missile launches.

“If the DPRK sits at a table with the U.S., it has to be a dialogue between nuclear weapons states, not one side forcing the other to dismantle nuclear weapons,” the newspaper said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

A White House spokesman said this month North Korea would need to show it was serious about abandoning its nuclear ambitions for talks to be meaningful.

North Korea signed a denuclearization-for-aid deal in 2005 but later backed out of that pact. It now says its nuclear arms are a “treasured sword” that it will never give up.

It conducted its third nuclear test in February.

That triggered new U.N. sanctions which in turn led to a dramatic intensification of North Korea’s threats of nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States.

But in a sign the hostility was easing, North Korea last Thursday offered the United States and South Korea a list of conditions for talks, including the lifting of U.N. sanctions.

The United States responded by saying it awaited “clear signals” that North Korea would halt its nuclear weapons activities.

North Korea has a long record of making threats to secure concessions from the United States and South Korea, only to repeat the process later. Both the United States and the South have said in recent days that the cycle must cease.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

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