North Korea seen “cautious” in announcing stance over upcoming summits

US President Donald Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May and the two Koreas will hold a summit by end-April. (KCNA via Reuters)
Updated 12 March 2018
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North Korea seen “cautious” in announcing stance over upcoming summits

SEOUL: North Korea’s silence on its upcoming summits with the US and South Korea is likely due to caution over organizing its stance regarding the meetings, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said on Monday.
“We have not seen nor received an official response from the North Korean regime regarding the North Korea-US summit,” said Baik Tae-hyun, spokesman for the ministry, in a regular press conference.
“I feel they’re approaching this matter with caution and they need time to organize their stance.”
North Korean media noted a visit by a senior delegation from South Korea last week but no coverage has been seen of Kim Jong Un’s invitation to meet US President Donald Trump or South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss the future of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
Trump agreed to meet with Kim Jong Un by the end of May and the two Koreas will hold a summit by end-April. A location has not been decided for the North Korea-US summit while Kim Jong Un and Moon will meet at the truce village of Panmunjom straddling the border between the two Koreas.
North and South Korea agreed to hold working talks to hammer out the details of the inter-Korean summit, but the two Koreas have not officially spoken since the South Korean delegation returned from the North last week, Baik said.
The North’s official news agency has been lauding efforts between the North and South to thaw relations, but state media has continued to warn the US and Japan against war-mongering.
Rhetoric in the North’s state media has been tame, however, compared to previous threats last year that went as far as saying Pyongyang would fire missiles to the vicinity of the US territory of Guam if provoked.
The South Korean officials who carried Kim’s invitation to Washington will visit the leaders of China and Japan this week to update them on the talks.


UN counterterrorism chief makes controversial trip to Xinjiang

Updated 13 min 36 sec ago
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UN counterterrorism chief makes controversial trip to Xinjiang

  • Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov traveled to Beijing and Xinjiang from Thursday to Saturday last week
  • The officials exchanged views on international counterterrorism efforts and reached “broad consensus”

BEIJING: The UN counterterrorism chief visited Xinjiang last week despite protests from the US and a rights group that the trip would be inappropriate in light of the human rights conditions in China’s far west region.
Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov traveled to Beijing and Xinjiang from Thursday to Saturday last week, said a statement Sunday from the Chinese foreign ministry. Voronkov and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng exchanged views on international counterterrorism efforts and reached “broad consensus,” the statement said.
The US, researchers and rights groups estimate that as many as 1 million ethnic Muslims may be arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang, home to the Uighur and Kazakh minority groups.
Former detainees have told The Associated Press that they were held without charge in “reeducation centers” where they were forced to denounce their faith and pledge loyalty to the ruling Communist Party. The Chinese government denies there is widespread abuse in these centers, which it says are vocational training schools aimed at combatting extremism and helping Xinjiang residents gain employable skills.
In a conversation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan conveyed “deep concerns” about Voronkov’s visit.
“Beijing continues to paint its repressive campaign against Uighurs and other Muslims as legitimate counterterrorism efforts when it is not,” Sullivan said, adding that Voronkov was putting the UN’s reputation and credibility at risk “by lending credence to these false claims.”
Human Rights Watch said Friday the UN should have sent a human rights expert instead of a counterterrorism official.
China’s foreign ministry did not provide details of Voronkov’s trip to Xinjiang.
“Counterterrorism cannot be linked to specific countries, ethnic groups and religions,” the ministry said in its Sunday statement. “It cannot adopt ‘double standards.’ China supports the UN in playing a central coordination role in international counterterrorism affairs.”