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North & South Korea may announce official end to war – local media

RT | April 17, 2018

Seoul and Pyongyang are reportedly set to make a huge step in the peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula, as officials from the two states are negotiating a joint statement outlining a formal end to hostilities.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the South’s president, Moon Jae-in, are scheduled to meet at a rare inter-Korean summit on April 27. A local media report indicated that the date could put an end to more than half a century of confrontation.

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in are to meet in the demilitarized zone in the village of Panmunjom, 53km north of Seoul. It will be the third event of its kind in the history of the two nations. Two previous meetings in 2000 and 2007 focused on political and economic issues.

Delegations from the North and the South have been holding meetings prior to the high-level talks to discuss a joint statement. The document may lead to “the end of confrontation,” newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing a government official.

War broke out between the two Koreas in 1950, and they formally remain at war despite the de facto end of hostilities in 1953.

The thaw in relations began on the eve of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, when the two nations formed a joint women’s ice-hockey team and agreed to march under a unified banner at the opening ceremony.

On Monday, South Korean envoy to Russia Wu Yun Gin said that Seoul will “do its utmost” to persuade the North to support the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula during the forthcoming talks. North Korea has repeatedly stressed that it is not going to stop its nuclear program until the US abandons its ‘hostile’ policy towards Pyongyang and halts military drills on the country’s doorstep.

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | 3 Comments

China becomes Trump’s indispensable partner

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | March 29, 2018

On Wednesday, the Chinese ambassador to the United States briefed the National Security Council in the White House regarding the visit by the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Beijing. The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders later expressed cautious optimism that in their estimation, “things are moving in the right direction” and the meeting in Beijing between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping was “a good indication that the maximum pressure campaign (on North Korea) has been working.” She said:

  • You saw him (Kim) leave for the first time — since becoming the leader of North Korea — for that meeting. And we consider that to be a positive sign that the maximum pressure campaign is continuing to work. And we’re going to continue moving forward in this process in hopes for a meeting down the road.
  • Certainly we would like to see this (end-May meeting between Trump and Kim). Obviously this is something of global importance and we want to make sure that it’s done as soon as we can, but we also want to make sure it’s done properly. And we’re working towards that goal. As we’ve said before, the North Koreans have made that offer and we’ve accepted, and we’re moving forward in that process.

Trump himself gave thumbs-up. He tweeted: “For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!”

Evidently, Beijing transmitted some extraordinarily hopeful tidings. The remarks by former US state secretary James Baker (who still remains an influential voice in the conservative spectrum) praising China’s role suggests that Beijing is moving in tandem with the Trump administration. In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Baker said:

  • “I think it’s too bad that there wasn’t some way that we could work with the Chinese to achieve this, this result of denuclearization of the peninsula. China is the only country in the world that really has any influence, significant influence on North Korea.”
  • “I would have sent some high-level envoy to Xi Jinping, the president of China, that the Chinese trust and have confidence in. And I would have said, ‘Look, you don’t like what’s going on in the Korean Peninsula. We don’t like what’s going on. Why don’t we cooperate to stop it?”
  • “We, the United States, will support any government you (China) install in North Korea, provided they repudiate the acquisition or maintenance of nuclear weapons. We will trade with that government, we will establish diplomatic relations, we will execute a peace treaty ending the Korean War. Your (China’s) job is to put a government in place there that is different than this government.” (See the video of the interview.)

There is great poignancy here in these remarks because Baker had played a key role under President Ronald Reagan (Trump’s role model) negotiating the end of the Cold War in the 1980s face to face with Mikhail Gorbachev.

China has positioned itself brilliantly as the facilitator-cum-partner-cum-ally-cum-friend – depending on who its interlocutor on the Korean Question happens to be. Xi deputed politburo member Yang Jiechi as his special envoy to visit Seoul to brief the South Korean leadership, even as preparatory talks for the inter-Korean summit in April were scheduled in the DMZ in Panmunjom. Evidently, Yang had a hand in the positive outcome today at the Panmunjom meeting where there is agreement to schedule the inter-Korean summit on April 27. (here and here)

Quite obviously, there are processes today that are beyond the US’ control. Again, the US’ number one ally in Northeast Asia – Japan – has been marginalized. No one set out from Beijing to brief Tokyo. Inevitably, there are conspiracy theories. The London Times newspaper resuscitated today the hackneyed thesis that China is driving a wedge between the US and South Korea. But that seductive conspiracy theory underestimates that China is, in actuality, playing for far higher stakes in its rise on the global stage as a great power.

To be sure, history is in the making. If, as Baker says, the US is willing to normalize with North Korea and conclude a peace treaty to bring the Korean War to a formal end, the raison d’etre of continued US military presence in South Korea (on which there is significant local opposition already) becomes unsustainable. That impacts the overall US power projection in Asia. Again, if the North Korean problem is resolved peacefully, can the Taiwan Question be far behind?

Equally, China must know that there is no quick fix to the North Korean problem and it suits China to leverage the US’ critical dependence on its cooperation for the long haul – which in turn can stabilize the Sino-American relationship itself and open a new era of big-power relationship based on trust, mutual respect and sensitivity to each other’s core interests, which Beijing has been assiduously seeking.

On the other hand, Trump is well aware that if he can swing a deal on North Korea, it will significantly boost his re-election bid in 2020. Wouldn’t China know it, too? (Read my column in The Week magazine recently – The art of the Korean deal.)

March 30, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US & South Korea to start massive joint military drills on April 1

RT | March 20, 2018

Following a months-long pause in military drills and despite a thaw in relations between Seoul and Pyongyang, South Korea and the US will resume joint military exercises on April 1, the Ministry of National Defense announced.

“The practice is slated to begin April 1, and it will be conducted on a similar size in previous years,” the Ministry of National Defense said, according to Yonhap.

The Pentagon confirmed the planned resumption of joint US-South Korean drills, noting that the exercises are expected to conclude toward the end of May.

“Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and the Republic of Korea Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo have agreed to resume the annual combined exercises including Foal Eagle and Key Resolve which were de-conflicted with the schedule of the Olympic Games. The exercises are expected to resume April 1, 2018, at a scale similar to that of the previous years,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said in a statement.

Furthermore, the US military noted that the North Koreans were notified about the drills by the United Nations Command. The Pentagon spokesman further added that the maneuvers have been long planned and are not a response to any specific North Korean action.

“Our combined exercises are defense-oriented and there is no reason for North Korea to view them as a provocation,” Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

After North Korea stated its desire to seek rapprochement with its neighbor, Seoul managed to convince Washington to hold off the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills until after the Olympic and Paralympic Games in South Korea.

However, despite Pyongyang’s pledge to temporarily halt its missile testing, pending upcoming US-North Korean talks, the US has never made concessions to freeze its military drills with South Korea. On Monday, Logan clarified that the military exercise would involve about 23,700 US troops and 300,000 members of the South Korean military.

Following the latest round of negotiations with a high-level delegation from Seoul earlier this month in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un sent Trump an invitation to discuss the prospects of improving bilateral ties face to face. After months of saber-rattling between the two leaders, Trump agreed to meet the North Korean leader “sometime” in May.

The US president’s readiness to hold discussions with the North came following reassurances by Seoul that Kim is “committed to denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, which Washington has persisted on. To make negotiations possible Kim even “pledged” to refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests until talks with Trump take place. Surprisingly, the North Korean leader also allegedly showed understanding towards the US-South Korean drills, which have greatly contributed to the ongoing tensions in the region. The US, in return, offered no concessions or promises, insisting that harsh sanctions will remain until a verifiable agreement is reached.

March 20, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

The U.S. Government Is the Problem in Korea

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | March 13, 2018

There are differing opinions regarding President Trump’s decision to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in an attempt to resolve the ongoing crisis in Korea.

Some people are happy that the two rulers are meeting because of the possibility that it will result in a peaceful resolution of a crisis that has gotten precariously close to breaking out into renewed warfare. What’s wrong with talking? this group says.

Others are saying that Trump acted too impulsively in accepting the invitation, arguing that summits should be held only after lower-echelon bureaucrats have determined that such a meeting is likely to result in positive developments. These people are suggesting, perhaps accurately, that if the talks fail to arrive at a solution, the situation could be made worse given that “talking” might no longer be viewed as an option for resolving the crisis.

Most people in both groups fail to see something important: that it is the U.S. government, not North Korea, that is the crux of the problem in Korea. Given such, how likely is it that a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un is going to arrive at a solution? I hope that I will be proven wrong but my hunch is: Not very likely at all.

The U.S. government has two aims in Korea, both of which are related.

Its principal aim is regime change. It wants to oust the communist regime in North Korea and install a pro-U.S. regime in its place, one that will then “invite” the Pentagon and the CIA into the country to construct U.S. military bases and install U.S. missiles along the Korea-China border.

For many people, the Cold War ended in 1989. Not for the Pentagon and the CIA. Caught off guard by the dismantling of the Soviet Union, the U.S. national-security establishment nonetheless continued viewing communist-socialist countries like Russia, North Korea, and Cuba as official enemies of the United States and threats to U.S. “national security.”

That’s why U.S. officials broke their promise to Russia not to expand NATO. Almost immediately after the Cold War ended, NATO proceeded to absorb Eastern European countries that had been members of the Warsaw Pact, with the aim of placing U.S. military bases and missiles ever closer to Russia. The last step was to incite regime change in Ukraine, with the aim of replacing a pro-Russia regime with a pro-U.S. regime, which would then “invite” the Pentagon and the CIA into the country, where they could install military bases and missiles on Russia’s border and even take over Russia’s longtime military base in Crimea. Russia, of course, forestalled that plan with its takeover of Crimea.

It’s also why U.S. officials have maintained their decades-long embargo against Cuba, a country that has never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. The aim continues to be to oust the Castro regime and replace it with another pro-U.S. dictatorship, much like the Fulgencio Batista regime that Fidel Castro and Cuban revolutionaries ousted from power in 1959.

That’s their aim with North Korea — regime change, the same aim they had for 11 years with Iraq, which they tried to achieve through 11 years of brutal sanctions, much like the sanctions that the U.S. has been enforcing against North Korea for several years. When the Iraq sanctions failed to succeed in achieving regime change in Iraq, President Bush ordered the Pentagon and the CIA to attack, which then succeeded in ousting Saddam from power and replacing him with a pro-U.S. regime.

The aim is no different in Iran. There are few things U.S. national-security state officials would love more than regime change in Iran, one that replaces the current regime with a pro-U.S. dictatorship, much like that of the Shah of Iran, who CIA officials installed into power in a coup in 1953.

Don’t forget: Prior to the U.S. regime change in Iraq, U.S. officials labeled Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as members of an “axis of evil.”

The U.S. government’s second aim is to have North Korea abandon and dismantle its nuclear-weapons program, which, needless to say, would make it less costly to pursue a U.S. regime-change operation against North Korea.

But North Korean officials are not dumb. They know that in a conventional war against the United States, North Korea wouldn’t stand a chance, any more than Iraq stood a chance when the U.S. government invaded it. Given the overwhelming military might of the U.S. government, virtually no Third World countries can defeat the U.S. in a war. (North Vietnam was a rare exception.)

The North Koreans know that there is only one way that would be likely to deter a U.S. attack on North Korea — nuclear weapons.

How do they know that? Easy. They know about Cuba. During the JFK administration, the Pentagon and the CIA were exhorting President Kennedy to undertake a full-scale invasion of Cuba because, they said, Cuba (like North Korea) posed a grave threat to U.S. “national security.” To create the false appearance that such an invasion was “defensive” in nature, the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously proposed Operation Northwoods to the president, which called for terrorist attacks and plane hijackings carried out by CIA agents secretly posing as Cuban communists.

Even though Kennedy rejected Operation Northwoods, the Pentagon and the CIA kept pressing for a regime-change invasion of Cuba. That’s when Castro invited the Soviets to install nuclear missiles on the island. The idea was that the missiles would hopefully deter U.S. officials from attacking Cuba in a regime-change operation.

The plan worked. Kennedy “blinked” and entered into a deal with the Soviets in which he vowed that the U.S. would not invade Cuba and in which he also secretly agreed to withdraw U.S. nuclear missiles aimed at Russia from Turkey. In return, the Soviets withdrew their missiles from Cuba, confirming that their purpose was deterrence and defense.

How could North Koreans not be impressed with that outcome? Compare the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which did not have nuclear missiles.

Why would North Korea ever agree to give up its nuclear weapons? There is only one slight chance of that happening — if North Korea can be convinced that the U.S. government has permanently abandoned its aim of regime change. But that could only happen if the U.S. government totally withdrew all U.S. forces from Korea and vowed never to attack North Korea (or create an Operation Northwoods type of false pretext attack).

How likely is that? I would say not very likely at all. The Pentagon and the CIA need an ongoing crisis in Korea (and others against Russia, terrorists, Muslims, Syria, the Taliban, drug dealers, etc.) to help justify their ever-growing budgets. Anyway, for them to exit North Korea would, in their minds, constitute “appeasement” in the face of the supposed communist threat to U.S. “national security.”

There is another complication for North Korea — the fact that the U.S. government cannot be trusted to keep its word. Sure, U.S. officials can point to Cuba and argue that succeeding U.S. regimes have complied with Kennedy’s vow not to invade Cuba. But others can point to the U.S. double-cross of Russia with respect to NATO expansion. Or to the U.S. double-cross of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who ended up dead in a U.S. regime-change operation after agreeing to give up his nuclear program. Or to President Trump’s vow to break the U.S. agreement with Iran after it agreed to give up its nuclear program.

Thus, the big problem at the upcoming meeting with Trump and Kim Jong-un is that they are holding what are essentially intractable and irreconcilable positions: U.S. officials wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons but refuse to abandon their aim of regime change. Even if they promised to give up regime change, they couldn’t be trusted, especially if U.S. forces remained in Korea. North Korea, on the other hand, will never give up its nuclear weapons so long as the threat of regime change persists.

The real solution to the Korea crisis? Forget a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un. It’s not necessary. Simply bring all U.S. forces home, immediately. The Korea civil war is none of the U.S. government’s business. Never has been, never will be. (Neither was Vietnam’s civil war.)

Might North Korea attack South Korea after the U.S. is gone in an attempt to forcibly unite the country? It’s certainly possible. President Lincoln invaded the Confederacy in a successful attempt to unify the country. But given South Korea’s strong economic base and powerful military, it is a virtual certainty that South Korea would end up winning such a war.

Might North Korea use nuclear weapons in a war against South Korea? Why would it? If it is attacking to unify the country, what good would it do to have a unified country if the southern half is radiated for the next hundred or so years, along with much of the north as well?

The U.S. government and the interventionist-imperialist philosophy it stands for are the real problem in Korea. Lift U.S. sanctions, bring all U.S. troops home now, and leave Korea to the Koreans. That’s the solution to the crisis in Korea.

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 4 Comments

North Korean Leader Wants Peace With US, Establish Diplomatic Ties – Reports

Sputnik – March 12, 2018

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un expressed willingness to sign a peace agreement with the United States as well as to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, South Korean media reported Monday, citing a source at the South Korean presidential administration.

Kim spoke about the intention to normalize relations with Washington during a meeting with a South Korean delegation in Pyongyang, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported.

The North Korean leader’s final goal is to sign a peace agreement with the United States and establish diplomatic ties, possibly including the opening of a US embassy in Pyongyang, according to the newspaper.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump accepted the invitation to meet with Kim by the end of May following months of heightened tensions and exchanges of frequent military threats between the two leaders.Donald Trump said later that he expected “tremendous success” in solving the North Korean issue, saying that he expected Pyongyang to cease its ballistic missile and nuclear tests as well as denulearize.

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

US bureaucracy and media sent reeling by news of Trump-Kim summit; working to prevent it

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | March 12, 2018

Events in the US since President Trump agreed to South Korean President Moon’s proposal that he meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un show (1) the extent to which the US elite including large sections of the US government’s bureaucracy are willing President Trump to lose despite the huge damage this threatens the US; and (2) how President Trump’s foreign policy instincts are often superior to those of the foreign policy veterans or “adults” which whom he has become surrounded.

Firstly, it is now clear that President Trump’s decision to agree to President Moon’s proposal for a summit meeting with Kim Jong-un was his own.

Apparently when he was told of the proposal by the South Korean delegation which came to brief him about the talks the South Koreans had just had with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, he immediately and enthusiastically agreed to it without first consulting any of his advisers.

Moreover it seems his excitement was so great that he even let slip news of the big announcement which was coming at the Gridiron Dinner.

It seems that none of the key officials of the government – Secretary of State Tillerson (currently on a tour of Africa), Defense Secretary Mattis or National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster – were consulted.

Not only were key officials of the US government not consulted, but there is no secret about their concern and displeasure, whilst the US media is now united with expressions of concern that by agreeing to meet with Kim Jong-un President Trump has walked into some kind of trap.  In his typical earthy way President Trump has even tweeted about it

Not surprisingly, there are already attempts to hedge the summit meeting with preconditions, with White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders already talking about unspecified ‘concrete steps’ North Korea must take place before the summit meeting can happen at all

The president will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete actions take place by North Korea, so the president will actually be getting something

It is also being said – apparently in all seriousness – that President Trump’s agreement to meet with Kim Jong-un reverses a previously unknown US policy not to meet with North Korea’s leaders lest this might lend them ‘legitimacy’.

Apparently Kim Jong-un’s father Kim Jong-il had repeatedly sought a summit meeting with the US President, only for his requests to be spurned by the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

All I would say about that is that I have never heard of such a policy before, but that if such a policy does exist then it is wrong, has visibly failed, and should be immediately reversed.

Suffice to say that when Kim Jong-il apparently first requested a summit meeting with US President Bill Clinton in the 1990s North Korea did not have nuclear weapons or intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Now it has both.

In other words refusing to meet with North Korea’s leaders has not denied them ‘legitimacy’; it has merely made them pursue their strategic weapons programme more aggressively, resulting in the opposite outcome to the one intended.

If President Trump has indeed reversed a policy of not meeting with North Korea’s leaders, then he should be commended – not criticised – for reversing a policy which has utterly and completely failed.

In any event this criticism ignores the fact that this latest proposal for a summit did not originate with the North Koreans.  It clearly comes from the South Koreans whose President Moon Jae-in is looking to President Trump for political cover so that he can press ahead with his dialogue with the North.

Refusing the proposal for a summit would deal a major political blow to President Moon Jae-in, quite possibly inclining him to cut the US further out of the steps he is taking to pursue dialogue with the North, which cannot be in the US’s interests.

US critics of the Trump-Kim summit need to understand that the US is not the only player in this game and that it is a mistake to see this is as a one-to-one confrontation between North Korea and the US.

Not only are the South Koreans taking an active and independent role in the diplomacy, but President Trump himself has just got a call from a very powerful player with a big stake in the game who will have made it very clear that he wants the summit to go ahead.

That player was no less a person than Chinese President Xi Jinping, who took time off from a key meeting of China’s National People’s Congress to telephone President Trump in order to make clear China’s wish that the Trump-Kim summit takes place and that progress towards a comprehensive settlement of the Korean conflict takes place.

Here is how China’s Xinhua news agency reports the call

Speaking by telephone, Xi told Trump that he appreciates the US president’s desire to resolve the Korean Peninsula issue politically, hoping that the United States and the DPRK will start dialogue as soon as possible and strive for positive results.

Xi added that he hopes all parties concerned will show goodwill and avoid doing anything which might affect or interfere with the improving situation on the peninsula, calling on them to maintain the positive momentum on the Korean Peninsula issue.

Xi also told Trump that China and the United States should focus on cooperation, control differences, promote win-win economic cooperation, and push for new advancement of bilateral relations in the new year.

Regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Trump said the nuclear issue has shown positive development recently, adding that a high-level meeting between the United States and the DPRK meets the interests of all parties, hoping for an eventually peaceful solution to the nuclear issue.

It has been proved that President Xi is right to insist on a dialogue between the United States and the DPRK, Trump said, adding that the US side highly appreciates and values China’s significant role in resolving the Korean Peninsula issue, and is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China over the issue, Trump said.

Xi pointed out that China remains persistent in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, and resolving the nuclear issue through talks.

At present, the positive changes in the situation on the Korean Peninsula are conducive to putting the denuclearization process back on the right track of settlement through dialogue, which is also in line with the direction set by UN Security Council resolutions concerning the DPRK, Xi said.

“I believe that as long as all parties adhere to the general direction of political and diplomatic settlement, we will surely push forward the Korean Peninsula issue in the direction that the international community has been looking forward to,” Xi said. (bold italics added)

It is unusual for Xinhua to quote words Xi Jinping actually used in a telephone call with another world leader, yet this is what it has just done in relation to the conversation Xi Jinping and Donald Trump have just had with each other. Moreover the words which Xinhua has quoted make clear China’s concern that the dialogue be continued.

On any objective assessment the storm of anger and criticism that the news of the Trump-Kim summit has provoked is baffling.

The critics have no alternative to offer other than the same policy of endless confrontation that has failed so dismally up to now.

As for the summit itself, what exactly is it that they fear? President Trump is hardly in a position to give the whole US position away. No one is expecting a comprehensive settlement of the whole conflict emerging from a single summit, and it is absurd to talk as if that is what might happen. Months and probably years of hard negotiating lie ahead.

However if a negotiation is going to succeed the parties must at some point meet, and that is all the South Koreans and the North Koreans are proposing, and all that President Trump has agreed to.

Personally I cannot escape the feeling that the true cause of the alarm of at least some of the critics of the proposed Trump-Kim summit is that they do not want President Trump – who they have spent years ridiculing as an infantile narcissist – to prove them wrong by achieving a major diplomatic success. President Trump’s tweet which I have quoted above shows that he thinks the same.

However there is almost certainly a more sinister agenda at work as well.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that some people in the US do not want to see the confrontation with North Korea end, not just because they balk at the idea of the US making concessions and because the Korean conflict is for the US’s military industries highly lucrative but because they fear that an end to the Korean conflict might undermine the US’s position in the north east Pacific and might result in South Korea going its own way.

Some of the criticisms which have been made of the President Trump’s agreement to attend the Trump-Kim summit look suspiciously like the start of a campaign by these people to abort prospects for a Korean settlement.

Given the entrenched positions these people hold in the US government and in the US media, there is no guarantee they will fail, and no guarantee that in the face of the obstacles they are putting before it the Trump-Kim summit will take place.

It is to be earnestly hoped that President Trump this time sticks to his decision and presses ahead with the summit. As I have said previously, a great opportunity to make the deal of his life stands before him. In his own interests and in the interests of the US he should not spurn it but seize it.

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Washington’s Moment of Truth For Korea Peace

Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.03.2018

US President Trump claims to be an imaginative deal-maker. We will soon see. His announcement this week that he is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for direct talks is stunningly good news.

The next few weeks will be make-or-break for a historic peace settlement to the decades-old Korean conflict. Washington’s next moves and words are crucial.

Kim made the offer in a letter to Trump conveyed by a South Korean delegation to Washington DC. Trump has responded positively, and a possible meeting is to take place in May. That would be the first time a sitting American president has ever met a North Korean leader.

Trump must forgo the temptation for macho posturing, and summon the maturity to act responsibly in the interests of regional and indeed world peace.

Washington bears a heavy responsibility for the conflict that has racked the Korean Peninsula since the 1950-53 civil war, in which the US backed its South Korean ally against the Communist North.

It is futile for American leaders to point the finger at Pyongyang as a “rogue state” while denying Washington’s own baleful role in the legacy of conflict and insecurity.

The quickening pace of inter-Korean peace diplomacy is a much welcome change from the war rhetoric that was endangering world security only a few months ago. This week it was reported that the North and South Korean leaders are ready to meet next month in what would be the biggest dialogue event in more than a decade for the Peninsula. Now President Trump has also agreed to talks with North Korea’s Kim.

North Korea’s reported willingness this week to freeze its nuclear weapons program is ground-breaking. It should be reciprocated by Washington moving, at long last, to sign an armistice to definitively end the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – has long maintained, with sound reason, that its nuclear weapons program has been impelled by the existential fear of a US-led war being thrust on it. Given the horrendous devastation inflicted on the people of North Korea during the 1950-53 war in which millions died from American aerial bombing campaigns, it is incumbent on Washington to commit to a full peace treaty to finally and formally end that war. Why not?

If, however, Washington insists on unilateral North Korean disarmament then the prospect for a peaceful settlement is doomed.

It is counterproductive to look back at past failed negotiations with recrimination about one side or the other reneging on obligations.

Surely, the imperative of the present hour is to seize the opportunity for peace by both sides making a mutual commitment to resolving grievances through solely peaceful means.

This is the diplomatic process which Russia and China have been urging all sides to embrace. North and South Korean leaders have stepped up to the plate and shown an admirable willingness to engage in earnest dialogue.

Since the beginning of this year, North and South Korean delegates have held several rounds of sincere talks to find a way forward for the security and peace of all the Korean people who share the one Peninsular homeland. The results have been promising and underscore the vital need for mutual engagement.

It is evident from the respective leaderships in Pyongyang and Seoul that the people of Korea, North and South, yearn for a peaceful coexistence.

What the Trump administration needs to do is listen to the wishes of the Korean people. Washington’s bellicose rhetoric towards North Korea must be somehow replaced with humility to genuinely resolve the Korean conflict – a conflict which Washington is a protagonist in.

These are far from unreasonable demands on Washington, as several former American diplomats and leaders such as President Jimmy Carter have recognized and endorsed.

Washington is insisting on imposing new punitive sanctions on Pyongyang, as well as carrying out forthcoming military exercises which have continually offended North Korea’s national pride and security.

Washington is acting like the master of the situation issuing ultimatums instead of pursing diplomacy.

There is a pragmatic way forward to achieve a peaceful resolution over Korea. Russia and China must prevail on the US to meet its international obligations of peaceful diplomacy.

Is Washington a law-abiding peaceful state, as it so often claims to be, or is it a rogue state that sees itself above the law and international moral consensus? A moment of truth is at hand.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

‘Truly Unprecedented’: High Level Inter-Korean Talks See Promising Start

Sputnik – 06.03.2018

On Monday, a South Korean delegation flew to Pyongyang to take part in a welcome banquet held by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un prior to talks expected to focus on bubbling tensions on the peninsula and the rocky relationship between North Korea and the US.

The South Korean delegation includes Chun Eui-yong, Seoul’s National Security Office director and Suh Hoona, the head of South Korea’s intelligence agency.

​Speaking to Sputnik Radio’s Loud & Clear, Simone Chun, a fellow at the Korea Policy Institute and member of the Korean Peace Network, broke down the meeting and discussed what could blossom from it.

“We will have to wait and see, but so far it looks like even President [Donald] Trump is looking forward to talking to North Korea,” Chun told show hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. “So if that is true, that probably sounds like we’re going to have brighter news than we’ve had in the last seven or eight years.”

“There were amazing pictures of the Korean delegate… they went to North Korea on a South Korean military aircraft… and the most interesting thing, truly unprecedented, is that they actually met with Kim Jong-un within three hours — that is truly something that has never happened before,” she added, before saying that “if all goes well I think we’re going to have some major breakthrough.”

Though Chun is hopeful that the talks will end on good terms, she admitted to Becker that at the end of the day nothing can be settled unless the US also signs off.

“It’s just a reality in international politics that without the US, nothing can be done. I think it’s very important to go step by step,” she said. “These guys are really truly experienced… they aren’t just inexperienced bureaucrats, they have years of experience in dealing with North Korea so I think that we really have a dream team.”

Chun believes that Pyongyang will likely use the talks as a way to “learn more about the Trump administration’s motives.”

“The most important thing is to end or reduce US hostility to North Korea… the bottom line is that if the United States can end its hostility toward North Korea, a foundational progress can be made.”

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

N. Korea says it has no need for nuclear weapons if it has security guarantee

RT | March 6, 2018

North Korea said it has no reason to possess nuclear weapons if it has a security guarantee, Seoul has confirmed, according to AP and Yonhap news agencies.

North Korea also pledged to freeze its nuclear-missile activities if it holds talks with the US. North Korea also pledged to freeze its nuclear-missile activities if it holds talks with the US.

Pyongyang and Seoul agreed to bilateral negotiations scheduled for next month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s top security adviser said, as quoted by Yonhap news agency. The leaders of both countries are expected to attend.

The gathering will be held at Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone, 53km north of Seoul, Chung said.

“The South and the North have agreed to set up a hotline between their leaders to allow close consultations and a reduction of military tension, while also agreeing to hold the first phone conversation before the third South-North summit,” he added.

The summit will be the third in the history of the split nation. Earlier on Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hosted a dinner with the delegation from Seoul which, according to state media, proceeded in a “sincere atmosphere.”

“Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae-in for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, [Kim Jong-un] exchanged views and made a satisfactory agreement,” North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported.

While both Koreas are showing signs of coming closer, Washington keeps sending mixed messages over the deadlock. In a recent interview, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he is open for talks with Pyongyang, yet issued a reminder that Washington will not deviate from the policy of using “a big stick.”

“We’re not using a carrot to convince them to talk, we’re using large sticks, and that is what they need to understand. This pressure campaign is having its bite on North Korea,” he said.

In February, Washington announced its largest package of sanctions in an effort to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. In a terser statement, US President Donald Trump warned of a possible “phase two” if sanctions imposed on Pyongyang do not have the desired effects.

Washington has been long rejecting a roadmap presented by Moscow and Beijing to bring some kind of solution to the Korean crisis. Dubbed a “double freeze plan,” the proposal envisioned US and its regional allies halting its drills in exchange for North Korea, stopping development of missiles and missile tests.

North Korea has been stressing that its strive for nukes is purely defensive, saying it feels provoked by the repeated war games Washington conducts on its doorstep.

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 6 Comments

Pyongyang Seeks to ‘Write New History’ of Korean Unification – State Media

Sputnik – 06.03.2018

Shortly after Kim Jong-un hosted a high-level delegation of South Korean officials for dinner in Pyongyang on Monday, North Korean state media said the country’s leader intends to advance inter-Korean relations and make the story of Korean history a story of unification.

Kim “repeatedly clarified that it is our consistent and principled stand and his firm will to vigorously advance the North-South relations and write a new history of national reunification by the concerted efforts of our nation to be proud in the world,” according to North Korea’s Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).

The Yonhap news agency has reported that the main goal of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s envoy to Pyongyang is to enable US-North Korea talks. Chung Eui-young, the head of South Korean national security, and Suh Hoon, Seoul’s spy chief, are among those who met with Kim.

Moon’s delegation hand-delivered a letter from the South Korean president addressing Kim. “Hearing the intention of President Moon Jae-in for a summit from the special envoy of the south side, he exchanged views and made a satisfactory agreement,” KCNA said. Further, the Pyongyang’s leader “gave the important instruction to the relevant field to rapidly take practical steps for it.”

“He [Kim] also made an exchange of in-depth views on the issues for easing the acute military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange,” KCNA added.

The United States and South Korea are in close contact regarding the inter-Korean talks that are currently underway, State Department spokesperson Katina Adams told Sputnik on Monday. “We are in contact with the Republic of Korea about our unified response to North Korea,” said Adams said.

Washington and Seoul will work together “through the maximum pressure of the campaign to ensure that North-South progress is accompanied by advances towards denuclearization.”

KCNA reports that the meeting was held in “a compatriotic and sincere atmosphere.”

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

South Korea ‘to send high-level delegation to North’

Press TV – March 4, 2018

South Korea has announced a decision to send a high-level political delegation to the North, raising hopes for a diplomatic solution to the decades-long conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

The South Korean presidential office announced on Sunday that a special 10-member government delegation was to visit North Korea on Monday.

“The special delegates will have extensive discussions over issues including creating conditions for North-US talks to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and improving inter-Korea ties,” Blue House spokesman Yoon Young-chan told reporters.

The 10-member group comprises five top delegates, including top national security adviser Chung Eui-yong and intelligence chief Suh Hoon. It will fly to the North’s capital, Pyongyang, on Monday afternoon before returning on Tuesday, Yoon said.

The delegation will then fly to the US to brief officials in Washington, he added.

The move comes just weeks after the North’s leader Kim Jong-un sent a delegation to the South that included his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong.

During her stay, Kim Yo-jong personally delivered to South Korean President Moon Jae-in an invitation from her brother for a summit meeting in Pyongyang.

Peace advocate

President Moon, 65, who hails from the Democratic Party, rose to power last year vowing to ameliorate the broken ties between the two Koreas.

Last week, Moon advised US leaders to stop setting preconditions to hold talks with North Korea and make greater efforts for peace and stability. Washington needs to “lower the threshold for talks” with Pyongyang, he said.

On Saturday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Pyongyang called on the US to drop any precondition for talks.

“The US is taking preposterous action by continuing to trumpet an insistence that it will not have dialog unless a right condition is met,” the unnamed spokesman was quoted as saying by the state-run KCNA news agency.

The US, which has imposed many sanctions on Pyongyang, has said that North Korea should denuclearize in order for negotiations to begin.

Late last month, the US imposed the “toughest ever” sanctions on North Korea.

The sanctions were imposed shortly after athletes from the North and South marched together in a show of unity at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which ended February 25.

North Korea, for its part, says its nuclear arsenal is a deterrent against potential US aggression.

The US has substantial military presence in the region and has repeatedly threatened the North with military action.

March 4, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Trump And Kim’s Tug-Of-War Over President Moon

By Andrew KORYBKO – Oriental Review – 03/03/2018

North Korea is reportedly willing to engage in talks with South Korea and the US.

The message was apparently conveyed after a high-level North Korean official met with the South Korean President, Moon Jae-In, who had previously campaigned on a promise to revive the so-called “Sunshine Policy” of some of his predecessors in actively seeking a rapprochement with Pyongyang. The course of developments in the 9 months since his election, especially regarding US actions towards North Korea and its preplanned calculated responses to it, made it almost impossible to advance this idea, but the recently concluded Pyeongchang Winter Olympics proved to be the perfect opportunity for breathing new life into this stalemated but nevertheless promising vision.

China and Russia previously proposed what they called the “Double Freeze” whereby the US and South Korea would indefinitely halt their joint military drills with one another in exchange for North Korea doing the same with its missile and nuclear tests. Washington took the first step in announcing the postponement of its planned exercises with Seoul, which created an amicable atmosphere for Pyongyang to do its part in making the Olympic Games a diplomatic success for everyone and infusing fresh optimism into the “Double Freeze” proposal. As could have been expected, however, the US recently said that it would be resuming its military games with South Korea and even deploying attack drones to the peninsula, which drew sharp condemnation from North Korea who accused America of endangering the incipient peace process.

Even so, this hasn’t yet resulted in any characteristically ostentatious moves from Pyongyang, which can be interpreted in one of two ways. The first is how Trump and his team are likely perceiving this, which is that North Korea is indicating its receptivity to talks from a position of weakness, especially after the US’ new sanctions against the country. The second, though, is more probable, and it’s that North Korea doesn’t want to be seen as being the first one to break the “Double Freeze” , especially since it’s betting that its recent “charm offensive” during the Olympics was enough to convince President Moon of Kim Jong-Un’s sincerity in holding talks with him.

Basically, the North Koreans are trying to deepen the divide between the US and their military allies in South Korea in an attempt to embolden Seoul to flex its independence and proactively take the initiative to further the positive gains achieved during the “Olympic Peace” and “Double Freeze”. Pyongyang has gone to great lengths to “humble itself” before the eyes of the world in presenting its peaceful intentions, which it’s hoping was successful in creating space for President Moon to once more try his hand at reviving the “Sunshine Policy”. Kim will try to encourage him, Trump will try to deter him, but what everything essentially comes down to is which of the two ultimately comes out on top in this tug-of-war over President Moon.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Mar 2, 2018.

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment