Trump-Kim Summit to hold between 27-28 February

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to meet Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) leader Kim Jong Un February 27-28 in Vietnam, the U.S. president announced on Tuesday during his State of the Union address.

“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea (DPRK),” Trump said.

“Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27th and 28th in Vietnam.”

The president did not elaborate on which exact city in Vietnam, yet sources say major cities Hanoi and Da Nang are in high odds.

The summit between Trump and Kim, if held as planned, will be their second face-to-face meeting following their landmark summit in Singapore last June. Both sides have said they look forward to it.

The U.S.’s special envoy for the DPRK Stephen Biegun is set to visit Pyongyang, capital of the DPRK, from Seoul tomorrow to finalize details of the summit, according to the U.S. State Department. Biegun is expected to meet with his newly appointed counterpart, Kim Hyok Chol.

The meeting aims to “advance further progress on the commitments the President and Chairman Kim made in Singapore: complete denuclearization, transforming U.S.-DPRK relations, and building a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula,” read the statement.

Trump and Kim Jong Un to hold another summit in February 2019

Donald Trump will hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un near the end of February, the White House has announced.

U. S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un during their first meetings at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island in Singapore on 12 June, 2018. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock (9710094e)The announcement came after the US president met a North Korean envoy on Friday.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Mr Trump met for 90 minutes with Kim Yong Chol to discuss denuclearization and a second summit.

She said the president looks forward to meeting with Kim at a location to be announced at a later date.

The two leaders held their first historic meeting last June in Singapore.

They reached a vague denuclearisation agreement, but little tangible progress has been made since.

So far, no details have been publicly released about how denuclearization could occur.

Sanders played down fears that a second summit may produce few results again.

Speaking to reporters, she said: “We have continued to make progress, we’re continuing to have conversations.

“The United States is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea until we seeing full and verified denuclearisation.

“We have had very good steps in good faith from the North Koreans in releasing the hostages and other moves.

“So we are going to continue those conversations so the president looks forward to his next meeting.”

In May, North Korea released three American detainees and sent them home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after his 90-minute meeting with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang.

Weeks later, Trump had his first, historic meeting with Mr Kim.

The North Korean emissary met earlier with Pompeo at a Washington hotel and they were reconvening after the White House meeting.

Mr Trump has spoken several times of having a second summit early this year and has exchanged multiple letters with Kim.

The unwritten agreement between Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un

 

Trade War or Peace

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged during his two-day visit to Beijing to achieve “results” that would be welcomed by the international community after his potential next summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, China’s state-run media said Thursday.

In a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, Kim also repeated that North Korea will stick to its goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, according to the reports.

The two leaders agreed that Beijing and Pyongyang will work together to resolve issues related to the divided peninsula, with Xi expressing clear support for North Korea’s efforts to hold summit meetings with Washington, Xinhua News Agency said.

Kim, whose visit, which ended Wednesday, came at a time of stalemate in denuclearization negotiations with Washington, explained to Xi the “challenges and concerns” that have arisen in the process of those talks, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

For his part, Xi told Kim he hopes North Korea and the United States can meet each other halfway, Xinhua said. The remark hinted at the depth of the differences that remain between Pyongyang and Washington.

“The political settlement of the peninsula issue faces a rare historic opportunity,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

Beijing supports U.S.-North Korean summits and the use of dialogue to resolve concerns, he was quoted as saying.

“China hopes that North Korea and the United States will meet each other halfway.”

China is North Korea’s major economic and political ally, and this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Beijing and Pyongyang.

Kim’s two-day trip reasserted China’s role in the process, and was seen by some as a strategy session ahead of a second summit between the North Korean leader and his U.S. counterpart.

At their first meeting in Singapore in June, Kim and Trump signed a vaguely worded document with Kim pledging to work towards the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” But progress has since stalled with Pyongyang and Washington — which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea — disagreeing over what that means.

North Korea wants relief from the multiple sets of sanctions imposed on it over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, while the U.S. wants the measures to remain in place until Pyongyang gives up its arms — something it has made no public promise to do.

China also wants the sanctions relaxed and Xi “spoke highly of the positive measures taken by the DPRK side,” Xinhua said, using the initials of the North’s official name.

North Korea has carried out six nuclear blasts and launched missiles capable of reaching the whole of the United States, but has performed no such tests for more than a year, and blew up the entrances to a nuclear testing ground it said it no longer needed.

Pyongyang has rejected demands for what it calls its “unilateral” disarmament as “gangster-like.”

China is the North’s sole major ally and key trade partner but relations had deteriorated over Pyongyang’s nuclear activities, before warming up last year, with Kim meeting Xi three times.

Kim noted the “difficulties and concern” in talks with the U.S., according to Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency, which said the Chinese leader had issued a ringing endorsement of the North’s position.

Xi said that “the principled issues suggested by the DPRK side are deserved requirements and its reasonable points of concern should be resolved properly,” it said.

Each of the previous Kim-Xi meetings have come shortly before or after the North Korean summits with either Trump or South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Trump said Sunday the U.S. and North Korea were negotiating the location of their next summit, a meeting Moon said Thursday was “imminent.”

Pyongyang needed to take “bold, practical measures for denuclearization” to ensure sanctions are lifted, he told reporters, but added that “corresponding measures” were also needed from the U.S., such as agreeing to a “peace regime” and formally declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

Moon acknowledged the Singapore agreement was “somewhat vague,” and there was “skepticism” over Kim’s denuclearization pledge.

But Kim had assured him and other leaders that his view of denuclearization was “no different in any way from what the international community demands,” Moon said, and Pyongyang would not link it to the presence of U.S. forces in the South or nearby.

Nonetheless a commentary carried by KCNA last month stressed that when Pyongyang refers to “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” it includes the North, the South, and “surrounding areas from where the Korean peninsula is targeted.”

Kim Han-kwon, an analyst at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy warned that preliminary talks between Pyongyang and Washington would be crucial.

“If what the North puts on the table after its summit with China fails to meet Washington’s expectations, there will be conflict and fresh doubts about whether a second summit should take place,” he said.

Washington and Beijing have competing strategic interests in northeast Asia, and Xinhua said Xi had re-asserted China’s importance in the diplomatic process.

Beijing stands ready to “play a positive and constructive role in maintaining peace and stability and realizing denuclearization on the peninsula and lasting peace and stability in the region,” it cited him as saying.

Xi greeted Kim at Beijing’s ornate Great Hall of the People on Tuesday — believed to be the North Korean leader’s birthday — before hosting a welcome banquet for Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju.

Kim visited a pharmaceutical plant that makes traditional Chinese medicine on Wednesday and met Xi again for lunch before heading home.

The visit coincided with trade talks between Chinese and U.S. officials.

Analysts say China could use the North Korean issue as a bargaining chip in the negotiations, but Beijing’s foreign ministry rejected any link between Kim’s trip and the talks.

Xi said, according to Xinhua, that China “supports the DPRK and the United States holding summits and achieving results.”

U.S.-China trade talks and Kim Jong Un’s relationship with Xi are different issues

 

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South Korean presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said on Tuesday that Seoul hopes Kim’s trip to China will act as a “stepping stone” for a second Trump-Kim summit.

Trump has offered assurances that another summit will allow him and Kim to make a grand deal to settle the nuclear standoff and change a relationship marked by decades of animosity and mistrust.

However, outside analysts are highly skeptical that the North will easily abandon a nuclear arsenal constructed in the face of deep poverty and likely seen by Kim as his only guarantee of regime survival.

Instead, Kim may be seeking to gauge China’s attitude toward sanctions ahead of the talks, including what the North would have to concede in order to win Beijing’s support at the UN.

The North has held off on additional nuclear weapons and missile tests for more than a year, possibly in response to China’s displeasure, while carrying out its new diplomatic offensive.

“The two leaders will further communicate over the issue of sanctions to further refine their previously general and vague attitudes,” said Cheng Xiaohe, professor at Renmin University’s School of International Studies in Beijing.

“It is impossible to see the cancellation of all sanctions, but what kind of sanctions can be cancelled and what are China and North Korea’s views on that will be discussed,” Cheng said.

Trump has pushed heavily for Chinese support in convincing North Korea to give up its weapons programmes, suggesting that could win Beijing better terms in a trade deal with Washington.

Kim’s arrival in Beijing coincides with US-China trade talks in Beijing that seek to end the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies ahead of a March deadline.

Asked whether China was linking to issues in an interview on Monday with CNBC, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “The Chinese have been very clear to us that these are separate issues.”

“Their behavior has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that,” Pompeo said.

“China has actually been a good partner in our efforts to reduce the risk to the world from North Korea’s nuclear capability. I expect they will continue to do so.”

Kim Jong Un arrives Beijing for talks with with Chinese president Xi Jinping

 

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Beijing on Tuesday at the start of a four-day visit, in what’s likely an effort to coordinate with his major ally ahead of a second summit with US President Donald Trump that could happen early this year.

A long motorcade including motorcycle outriders reserved for state leaders left a Beijing train station shortly after the arrival of an armored train consisting of 20 to 25 cars, most of whose windows were blacked-out, along tracks lined by police and paramilitary troops.

Kim’s trip, announced earlier by both sides, comes after U.S. and North Korean officials are believed to have met in Vietnam to discuss the location of a second summit.

North’s Korean Central News Agency said Kim departed on Monday afternoon with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and other top officials. It said Kim is visiting China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Tuesday also happens to be Kim’s birthday.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency issued a nearly identical report, while Beijing’s North Railway Station was cocooned in security, with dozens of police and paramilitary troops patrolling outside.

Kim is expected to stay at the highly secure Diaoyutai State Guest House in the capital’s west, with meetings held at the Great Hall of the People, the hulking seat of the legislature that sits next to Tiananmen Square.

The trip marked a further break with past practice in that it was announced in advance of Kim’s arrival, a possible sign of growing confidence on the part of North Korea and China, Pyongyang’s most important trading partner and a key buffer against pressure from Washington.

After years of cool relations following Kim’s assumption of power 2011, ties have improved remarkably over the past year as Xi seeks to maintain his influence in the region.

Kim’s trip comes as the U.S. and North Korea look to settle the North’s decades-long pursuit of a nuclear arsenal.

Washington and Pyongyang seemed close to war at points during 2017 as the North staged a series of increasingly powerful weapons tests that got it tantalizingly close to its nuclear goal of one day targeting with pinpoint accuracy anywhere on the U.S. mainland.

Possibly fearing the economic effect of crushing outside sanctions imposed because of his weapons’ tests, Kim abruptly turned to diplomacy with Seoul and Washington last year. He also visited China three times, notably without a reciprocal visit from Xi in a break with diplomatic convention.

But even after what was seen as a blockbuster summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore last June, the first-ever between the leaders of the war enemies, there’s been little real progress in nuclear disarmament.

Washington is pressing the North to offer up a detailed accounting of its nuclear arsenal, while Pyongyang says it has already done enough and it’s time for the US to ease harsh international sanctions that hold back the North Korean economy.

Kim Jong Un not happy with corrupt leadership in DPRK’s military

 

 

Thae Yong-ho, a former DPRK’s deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom who defected with his family to South Korea in 2016, has revealed Kim Jong Un’s discontentment with high-ranking officials in North Korea’s military.

Thae Yong-ho

Image: Thae Yong-ho

According to The Dong-a Ilbo, Kim is furious over an alleged misappropriation of state funds by military leaders.

The report adds that Kim’s anger was expressed during his 17 December visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun Kim, in commemoration of the 7th anniversary of the death of his father Kim Jong Il. The supreme leader was joined by many high-ranking officials of the central committee such as President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam and North Korean Premier Pak Pong Ju.

Writing on his blog, the former North Korean diplomat explained that North Korean media outlets have been prohibited from covering military-related events except those that aim at boosting public support, admiration and loyalty–which make headlines every year.

Thae noted in his analysis that Kim may have been enraged by a bunch of irregularities caught by censorship sessions on military leadership carried out by a body in charge of escorting and guarding Kim. The Rodong Sinmun covered an editorial dated on Wednesday, declaring war on corruption among the military leaders. In the writer’s opinion, the editorial seems to be related to widespread corruptions recently caught by Kim’s regime.

Additionally, Thae said that Pyongyang is trying to create an atmosphere across the media to blame Seoul for the unlikeliness of Kim’s visit to Korea within this year.

“However, North Korea has not mentioned any issues regarding inter-Korean cooperation efforts such as a joint research exercise of the railway system and the South’s decision to provide humanitarian assistance,” Thae added.

“Thus, attention is being paid to what Kim will deliver at his new year speech on January 1, 2019.”

Otto Wambier’s parents file lawsuit against North Korea; $1.1 billion at stake

 

Fred and Cindy Warmbier, bereaved parents to Otto Warmbier, who was arrested for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster in faraway North Korea in January 2016, are demanding $1.1 billion from Kim Jong-un’s government in compensation for their son’s d‌e‌at‌h.

Otto Warmbier.jpg

Image: Otto Warmbier

Warmbier was a‌rr‌est‌e‌d for theft and originally se‌n‌te‌nc‌e‌d to 15 years of hard labor. He returned to the U.S. in a co‌m‌a and ‌d‌‌i‌e‌‌‌d later in June 2017.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier are seeking the amount based on the similar case of Kim Dong-shik, a Korean-American pastor who d‌ie‌d‌ in 2015.

According to the Korea Times, a sum of $1.05 billion — the largest portion — will be for punitive damages, while $350 million will be reserved for each parent.

Additionally, the Warmbiers are demanding $10 million for the psychological pain Otto had gone through during his detention. They also want $15 million more for each of them for the psychological p‌a‌in they had to endure whenever their son appeared on North Korean TV and when they decided to halt his life support.

Financial losses were also taken into account.

“Physically, he returned de‌str‌oye‌d in a state of unresponsive wakefulness with a devastating brain i‌nj‌u‌ry; he also had a large scar on his left foot and traumatic dental inj‌‌u‌ries, all of which resulted from North Korea’s t‌ort‌ur‌e,” the lawsuit filed in April stated, according to Voice of America.

North Korea has not responded to the lawsuit yet. As such, no representative was present for the pre-trial hearing on 14 December, VOA noted.

According to the Chosun Ilbo, the Warmbiers’ lawyers said that if the $300 million awarded in Kim’s case was not enough to stop North Korea. “…More must be awarded here to send a message to North Korea that its continuing heinous acts will be met with ever increasing penalties.”

The Warmbiers recently visited Japan to speak at a symposium that discussed North Korean abduction cases, the Korea JoongAng Daily reported. The event was sponsored by the Japanese government.

“As a victim of North Korean terror, I feel a kinship especially with the loved ones of the abductees,” said Fred, adding that he was visiting Tokyo so as “not to forget the d‌e‌a‌th‌ of my son.”

Kim Jong-un requests to meet Donald Trump again

 

Donald-Trump-Kim-Jong-Un-Impersonators-At-Winter-Olympics

US President Donald Trump received a “very positive” letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un seeking a follow-up meeting after their historic summit in Singapore, the White House said.

US President Donald Trump received a “very warm, very positive” letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un asking for a second meeting and the White House was looking at scheduling one, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Monday.

The two countries have been discussing North Korea’s nuclear programmes since their leaders met in Singapore in June, although that summit’s outcome was criticised for being short on concrete details about how and whether Kim was willing to give up weapons that threaten the United States.

The likely timing of a second Trump-Kim meeting was unclear.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in called for a “bold decision” by Trump and Kim on denuclearisation.

“The complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula is an issue that should fundamentally be resolved between the US and North Korea through negotiation,” Moon told a cabinet meeting.

“But until talks and communication between the North and the US become more active, we cannot but work to mediate between them,” he said, adding, “President Trump and Chairman Kim have asked that I play this role.”

Moon is scheduled to have his third summit with Kim next week in Pyongyang, and his government had pushed for a three-way summit involving Trump, with the aim of agreeing a joint declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War.

The conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the US-led United Nations forces including South Korea, technically still at war with North Korea.

While South Korea had hoped an accord formally ending the conflict could have been unveiled on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month, Moon’s security chief Chung Eui-yong said last week, without elaborating that the necessary conditions for a three-way meeting were missing.

Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton has also said he did not believe Kim would attend such a gathering.

Hopes of progress were revived however after Trump told reporters on Friday that a personal letter from Kim was on the way.

“It was a very warm, very positive letter,” Sanders said at Monday’s briefing.

“The primary purpose of the letter was to request and look to schedule another meeting with the president which we are open to and are already in the process of co-ordinating that,” she said.

Sanders told reporters the letter exhibited “a continued commitment to focus on denuclearisation of the peninsula.”

She said a military parade in Pyongyang on Sunday was “a sign of good faith” because it did not feature any long-range missiles.

Trump: I have “great chemistry” with Kim Jong Un

 

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that it’s “most likely” he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un again following their historic summit in June, according to a news report.

Kim Jong Un and Trump.jpg

Image shows Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump

Trump was responding to a question during an interview with Reuters about whether the two are planning another meeting.

“It’s most likely we will, but I just don’t want to comment,” he was quoted as saying, offering no details on the timing or venue.

At their June meeting in Singapore, Kim committed to work toward the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the United States.

Trump has hailed the deal as ending the North Korean nuclear threat, but critics say there has been no indication yet of Pyongyang’s willingness to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

In the interview, Trump pointed to North Korea’s suspension of nuclear and ballistic missile testing and took credit for making it happen.

“I stopped (North Korea’s) nuclear testing. I stopped (North Korea’s) missile testing. Japan is thrilled. What’s going to happen? Who knows? We’re going to see,” he said.

North Korea last tested a nuclear weapon in September and an intercontinental ballistic missile in November, claiming the U.S. was within reach of its weapons.

Tensions soared as Trump and Kim exchanged threats and personal insults before a mood of rapprochement set in with the North Korean leader’s offer to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea early this year.

Trump told Reuters “a lot of good things are happening” with North Korea but did not elaborate on whether the regime has taken specific steps to dismantle its nuclear program since it demolished its only known nuclear testing site in May.

“I do believe they have,” he said.

Again the president touted his relationship with the North Korean leader.

“I like him. He likes me,” he said. “There’s no ballistic missiles going up, there’s a lot of silence. … I have very good personal relations with Chairman Kim, and I think that’s what holds it together.”

Trump said he has “great chemistry” with the young leader.

Rumors have swirled that the two could meet again on the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is believed to be preparing a fourth trip to Pyongyang to follow up on the summit agreement.

The Korean War: Is there hope for family reunion?

The South Korean unification ministry on Monday said it has begun a survey of over 55,000 families who were separated during the 1950-53 Korean War.

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This comes after North Korea and South Korea agreed to hold a family reunion event by mid-August this year, as decided by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the historic inter-Korean summit at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on April 27 this year, Yonhap News Agency reported.

It is to be noted that the Korean War ended in an armstice agreement and not in a peace treaty. The two Korean leaders are still technically at war, although Moon and Kim had pledged at the inter-Korean summit that they will sign a peace treaty to end the six-decade Korean War formally.

The South Korean unification ministry said it will carry out the survey of around 57,000 registered families, checking on them whether they are alive or not and will they participate in a family reunion event or not.

Based on the response of the applicant’s keenness to join such an event, South Korea is expected to seek to confirm the survival of their family members and relatives present in North Korea, as per the report.

The ministry will also ask the registered families if they want to deliver video messages for their families living in North Korea.

The two Koreas agreed to hold a Red Cross meeting on June 22 to arrange the family reunion events. If held, it would the first time of its kind when a reunion event will be held since October 2015.

Earlier, South Korea had expressed keenness in holding family reunion events, but North Korea’s response has been tepid.

Instead, Pyongyang had asked Seoul to extradite its restaurant workers who defected to South Korea from China in 2016 as a precondition for the same, according to the report.

As per the latest data from the unification ministry, the number of separated families registered in South Korea stood at 132,134 in mid-May this year, out of which at least, 56,890 of them were still alive.

In a 2016 survey, the ministry found out that 74.7 percent of the separated families living in South Korea did not say whether their families and relatives were alive or not in North Korea.

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Why Kim Jong Un took his personal toilet to Singapore

Ahead of the historic US-North Korea Summit, Kim Jong Un reportedly reshuffled his military ranks for improved security and his arrival in Singapore together with a “mobile toilet” buttresses this fact.

Kim's toilet

 

Image highlights Kim’s mobile toilet in the background (Source: Korean Central News Agency)

The DPRK leader took appropriate steps to guarantee his safety while holding denuclearization talks with US President Donald Trump. The meeting will hold on 12 June.

Kim is known to always travel with different toilets, including one in his Mercedes Benz.

A report from South Korean tabloid Daily NK, confirmed in 2015 that the North Korean dictator has private toilets in his personal train and every vehicle he rides in, whether they are small or midsize cars, including special SUV’s specifically built for snow or mountainous terrains.

Kim is not a lover of toilets and he does not poop all the time. It is, however, forgivable if one thinks that less of him considering the bloated tummy he lugs with pride.

The South Korean news outlet quoted an unnamed source as saying that Kim cannot, in the culture and traditions of Suryeong-based (dictatorial) society, to make use of public toilets just because he needs to leave his permanent residence.

The Supreme Leader, as Kim is known in North Korea, uses mobile toilets to ensure that “poo scavengers” do not dig out his health secrets, reports another South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

North Korean leadership considers Kim’s health a top secret.

Lee Yun-keol, a former staff of the DPRK President’s Guard Command Unit who deserted his country for personal reasons, revealed to The Washington Post that “the leader’s faeces contain important information about his health status and they cannot be taken for granted…The government cannot leave them behind.”

Kim’s urine and faecal matter are useful for medical tests and these serve as health indicators, Daily NK noted.

Talking about the importance of Kim’s mobile toilet and his vulnerability while in the box, a US security strategist suggested earlier this year that Trump’s government send a warning message by blasting the sewer.

“The action from US military will send an unmistakable message that ‘your life can be taken while you poop,’” Jeffery Lewis acknowledged.

North Korea changes military leaders ahead of summit with Donald Trump

Kim Jong Un

The top three military officials in North Korea have been dismissed from their positions, according to a senior US official cited by Reuters, and analysts see the move as an effort from Kim Jong Un to jump-start economic development and engage with the world.

Kim Jong Un is due to meet with US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12, the first such meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president.

While Kim’s reasons for the shakeup remain unclear, it allows him to tighten control over the Korean People’s Army (KPA) at a critical time for international engagement and domestic development.

“If Kim Jong Un is set on making peace with the U.S. and South Korea and dealing away at least part of the nuclear programme, he will have to put the KPA’s influence in a box and keep it there,” said Ken Gause, director of the International Affairs Group at CNA, a non-profit research and analysis organisation.

“This reshuffle has brought to the fore the officers who can do just that. They are loyal to Kim Jong Un and no one else.”

Capture

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing an unnamed intelligence official, reported that defense chief Pak Yong Sik had been replaced by No Kwang Chol, while Ri Myong Su, chief of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) general staff, had been replaced by his deputy, Ri Yong Gil.

Army general Kim Su Gil’s replacement of Kim Jong Gak as director of the KPA’s general political bureau was previously referenced in North Korean state media, and confirmed Monday by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which deals with North Korean affairs, CNN reported.

“All these (promoted) guys are top Kim Jong Un guys,” said Michael Madden, author of the highly respected North Korea Leadership Watch blog. “All three of them have held very sensitive and high level positions under Kim Jong Un, they’re very loyal (to him), and all have experience interacting with foreign delegations.”

Japan warns against trusting North Korea ‘too much’

Japan’s defence minister has urged the international community to keep sanctions and surveillance on North Korea, saying it has a history of reneging on agreements.

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Image shows Mark Pence and Itsunori Onodera (Source: Aljazeera)

Itsunori Onodera said North Korea agreed to give up nuclear weapons as early as 1994, but has continued to develop them in secret and until last year threatened surrounding countries with a series of ballistic missile launches.

“In light of how North Korea has behaved in the past, I believe that it is important not to reward North Korea solely for agreeing to have a dialogue,” he said.

“We have seen history repeat, where North Korea would declare to denuclearise, thereby portraying itself as conciliatory and forthcoming, only to turn around to void all international efforts towards peace.”

The comments by Japan’s defence chief marked a sharp contrast with his South Korean counterpart, who said there was no reason to doubt the sincerity of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Song Young-moo said: “Just because we have been tricked by North Korea in the past doesn’t guarantee that we will be tricked in the future. If we believe that, we will never be able to negotiate with them and make peace with them.”

The South Korean defence minister said that if the talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons are successful, they could be compared with the 1989 Malta Summit between former President George H W Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, less than a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Japanese and South Korean defence ministers were speaking at an international security conference in Singapore, which is set to host the landmark summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un on June 12.

Trump confirms the US-North Korea Summit is back on

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Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man, Kim Yong-chol, is currently in the United States and ready to visit the White House on Friday as the two sides scramble to get the Kim-Trump summit back on track after the US president canceled it.

President Donald Trump is expected to receive a letter from Kim Jong Un on Friday as the world anticipates a historic meeting between the two leaders, but an early read of the letter suggests North Korea will stay firm in its recent demeanor.

The US president now says he still hopes to meet Kim in Singapore on June 12 and pressure him to give up his nuclear weapons, although he conceded on Thursday that might require more rounds of direct negotiations.

“I’d like to see it done in one meeting,” Trump told Reuters. “But often times that’s not the way deals work. There’s a very good chance that it won’t be done in one meeting or two meetings or three meetings. But it’ll get done at some point.”

Though the US is engaged in three separate sets of talks with North Koreans around the globe, it’s still unclear whether Trump will actually meet with Kim.

It was North Korea that suggested during high-level talks on Friday that the two Koreas hold a joint celebration of the anniversary of a historic 2000 inter-Korean summit this month in the South, an official in Seoul said.

Kim’s letter, to be delivered by Kim Yong Chol, an infamous and sanctioned North Korean official, could have served as an inflection point in the decision-making process. But according to The Wall Street Journal, it puts the ball back in Trump’s court.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said late on Thursday that the details of Friday’s meeting between Kim Yong-chol and Trump in Washington were still being worked out. It was not clear whether the US president would receive Kim Jong-un’s envoy in the Oval Office.

It was also not clear what North Korea’s leader wrote in his letter to Trump, although it was seen as raising hopes that the summit meeting might be back on.

The Journal quoted a foreign government source as saying the letter was “fairly basic.” It said Kim wanted to meet Trump but didn’t make any concessions or threats, as have marked his previous communications.

After trading threats of war last year, the two men agreed to meet for an historic summit on June 12. But Trump canceled last week, over what he called Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” in a string of public statements.

Even as he pulled out, though, Trump urged Kim to “call me or write” if he wanted to revive the meeting.

“They’ll have to choose a path that is fundamentally different than the one that their country has proceeded on for decades. It should not be to anyone’s surprise that there will be moments along the way, that this won’t be straightforward,” said the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently held a meeting with Kim Yong-chol in New York.

Moon Jae-in to meet Kim Jong Un before the US-North Korea Summit

The leaders of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) have agreed to hold high-level talks on June 1, the DPRK’s state media KCNA reported Sunday, adding that DPRK leader Kim Jong Un’s hopes were “fixed” for a potential summit next month with the US.

 

Kim and Moon.jpg

Image shows ROK President Moon Jae-in (R) hugging DPRK leader Kim Jong Un after their second summit at the north side of the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on 26 May, 2018 (Source: VCG)

“The top leaders of the North and the South agreed to hold the North-South high-level talks on coming June 1 and further accelerate the talks of various fields including the ones of military authorities and Red Cross,” the KCNA reported.

Moon and Kim held their second summit at Panmunjom on Saturday afternoon.

“Panmunjom, the historical land which had once come under global spotlights as a symbol of peace for making a new start of the North-South relations and opening up a new era of reconciliation and unity, witnessed the significant meeting between the top leaders of the North and the South once again after 29 days,” KCNA confirmed.

The report added that the two leaders have agreed to meet frequently in the future.

“They shared the opinion that they would meet frequently in the future to make dialogue brisk and pool wisdom and efforts, expressing their stand to make joint efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” said KCNA.

“Kim Jong Un thanked Moon Jae-in for the effort made by him for the DPRK-US summit scheduled for June 12, and expressed his fixed will on the historic DPRK-US summit talks,” said the report.