North Korea slams US for ‘evil’ sanctions push

Pyongyang has not made any explicit public promise to give up its existing arsenal. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 October 2018
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North Korea slams US for ‘evil’ sanctions push

  • The declaration threatens to upset the negotiations between Washington and the nuclear-armed North
  • Washington has been adamant the measures should be maintained until Pyongyang’s complete denuclearization

SEOUL: North Korea’s state media on Tuesday slammed the United States for an “evil” attempt to maintain sanctions against Pyongyang, accusing President Donald Trump of blocking progress in inter-Korean relations.
The declaration threatens to upset the negotiations between Washington and the nuclear-armed North, in which Trump is expected to hold a second summit soon with Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un.
At their first meeting in Singapore in June they signed a vaguely-worded pledge on denuclearization, but little progress has been made since then with the two sides sparring over the meaning of the text.
Pyongyang has not made any explicit public promise to give up its existing arsenal but has repeatedly called for UN Security Council sanctions imposed over its weapons programs to be loosened, citing a freeze in its nuclear and missile tests.
For its part Washington has been adamant the measures should be maintained until Pyongyang’s complete denuclearization.
Washington was playing a “double game,” said a lengthy commentary carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency, and was “little short of destroying” the rare diplomatic opportunity between the two.
“Hostile policy and reciprocity can not go together,” it said, and negotiations would not move forward “an inch with an obstacle called sanctions.”
“The US... is responding to good faith with evil,” it added.
KCNA said the article, nearly 1,700 words long and titled “What Do Ill-boding Remarks from US Signify,” had been “made public” by Kim Chol Myong.
No further details about its origins or the author’s affiliation were given, suggesting that “Kim Chol Myong” is likely to be a pseudonym.
But the fact that it was carried by Pyongyang’s official news agency indicates that it has the authorities’ approval.
It was published just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang and said he had “productive” talks on denuclearization with the North Korean leader.
After an earlier Pompeo visit in July the North issued an angrily-worded official foreign ministry statement condemning what it called his “unilateral” demands for its disarmament, describing them as “gangster-like.”
It cast doubt on the prospects for progress — even though it proclaimed “our good faith in President Trump” — and prompted the US leader to cancel a scheduled August trip to Pyongyang by his Secretary of State, before a fresh round of visits and a letter from Kim restarted the process.
But Tuesday’s declaration went further, implicitly criticizing the US leader — who is known to consider personal relationships important.
Without naming Trump, it referred to his comments last week that Seoul would not lift its own sanctions against the North “without our approval.”
“Even the White House made such threatening words,” KCNA said, “enraging not only south Koreans but all other Koreans.”
South Korea’s dovish President Moon Jae-in — who has held three meetings with Kim this year — has vowed to honor the UN sanctions but agreed to pursue a handful of joint economic projects with the North.
After his visit this month Pompeo said Kim had agreed to allow international inspectors to visit a nuclear test site that the North dismantled in May but did not elaborate on any offers made by the US in return.


Merkel pledges support to Ukraine after Zelensky win

Updated 20 min 54 sec ago
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Merkel pledges support to Ukraine after Zelensky win

  • Germany key broker in conflict between Kiev and Russia-backed separatists
  • The war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and rebels backed by Moscow has claimed some 13,000 lives

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has congratulated comedian Volodymyr Zelensky on his landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election, saying she hopes the vote will help stabilize the troubled country.

“I congratulate you on your election,” Merkel said.

“The stabilization of Ukraine and a peaceful conflict resolution are as close to my heart as the implementation of central reforms of the judiciary, decentralization and the fight against corruption,” her statement said.

“The Federal government will continue to actively assist Ukraine in its right to sovereignty and territorial integrity in the future.”

Merkel, who met incumbent Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko earlier this month in Berlin, added that she would welcome receiving Zelensky soon.

Germany has been a key broker in the conflict between Kiev and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since Moscow annexed the Crimeapledgen peninsula in 2014, negotiating with France the now moribund Minsk peace accords.

The war in eastern Ukraine between government forces and rebels backed by Moscow has claimed some 13,000 lives and rumbles on despite a series of periodic truce deals.

The EU also has sanctions in force against Russia over its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas praised Poroshenko for his “great contribution to his country over the last five years” and echoed Merkel’s offer of support to Zelensky.

“Volodymyr Zelensky became known during the election campaign for further reforms and the fight against corruption,” said Maas in a statement.

“Germany will continue to stand at the side of Ukraine and offer support on this path.”

Ukrainians looked to the future with hope and anxiety after Zelensky took 73 percent of the vote, according to nearly complete official results.

The star of the sitcom “Servant of the People,” now in its third season, has vowed to stick to the pro-European course set out by his predecessor.

But he has also said he will try to improve ties with Russia.

On the streets of Kiev, many praised honest elections and a peaceful transfer of power after popular uprisings of 2004 and 2014.

“People showed that they want change,” said 28-year-old Karina.

“We had the most honest polls in the history of Ukraine,” she added, praising Poroshenko for conceding defeat soon after exit polls were published.

Zelensky presented a vague manifesto and one of his campaign slogans was, “No promises. No apologies.”

He shunned traditional campaign rallies, instead performing comedy gigs, and implied he would use the same unorthodox style to run the country of 45 million dependent on international aid.

It remained unclear Monday who would fill top positions, including the role of prime minister.

US President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron called the political novice to congratulate him on his landslide win.

“Allow us to express our appreciation for the strong attachment to democracy and the rule of law that the people of Ukraine have demonstrated,” EU Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said in a joint letter to Zelensky.

Outgoing Poroshenko said he stood ready to help his successor, despite a bitter campaign.

Russia — which Kiev and the West accuse of fueling a smoldering separatist conflict in Ukraine’s industrial east — said it saw an opportunity with the new leader.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said there was “a chance” to improve ties.

“What’s needed for this? Honesty. And a pragmatic and responsible approach,” Medvedev wrote on Facebook.

There was no immediate comment from President Vladimir Putin.