N. Korea should take ‘bold’ steps toward denuclearization: S. Korea’s Moon

In this May 26, 2018, file photo provided by South Korea Presidential Blue House, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, walk after their meeting at the northern side of Panmunjom in North Korea. (AP)
Updated 10 January 2019
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N. Korea should take ‘bold’ steps toward denuclearization: S. Korea’s Moon

  • Moon acknowledged that the agreement North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump signed at their first summit in Singapore was “somewhat vague”

SEOUL: North Korea needs to take “more bold, practical measures for denuclearization” to ensure sanctions are lifted, the South’s President Moon Jae-in said Thursday with negotiations stalling between Pyongyang and Washington.
“Corresponding measures must be devised in order to facilitate North Korea’s continued denuclearization efforts,” he added, such as the US agreeing a “peace regime” and formally declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
The North has repeatedly pledged to work toward “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” a vague term that could be taken to also include US forces in the South and in the wider region.
Moon acknowledged that the agreement North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump signed at their first summit in Singapore was “somewhat vague.”
He also said there was “skepticism” that Kim’s “concept of denuclearization” will be different from that demanded by the US.
“But Kim has assured many foreign leaders, including myself, Trump, Xi Jinping and Putin, that his concept is no different in any way from what the international community demands,” Moon told reporters at the Blue House in Seoul.
“Kim also stated that denuclearization and the issue of ending the war has nothing to do with the status of US troops in South Korea,” he added. “Kim Jong Un understands that the issue is entirely up to the decision of South Korea and the United States.”
US strategic assets in the region involved not only North Korea, “but also overall stability and peace in Northeast Asia,” Moon said. “I don’t think it will be discussed in North-US nuclear talks.”
The North Korean leader’s trip to China this week was a sign a second Trump-Kim summit was “imminent,” he added.
“I think Chairman Kim Jong Un’s visit to China will have a very positive effect on the success of the second US-North Korea summit,” he told the press conference.
A second summit should produce an agreement that was “more clear on actions by each side,” he added.
Moon has actively pursued engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table, a stance that has at times seen Seoul and Washington take increasingly divergent approaches.
Conditions for resuming two key economic projects between North and South Korea — the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where Southern companies used to employ North Korean workers, and Southern tourism to Mount Kumgang in the North “have essentially been met already,” he said.
But many analysts say that restarting the schemes would at present violate sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Seoul would cooperate with the US and international community to seek to “resolve” the issue of sanctions “as soon as possible,” Moon said.


Report raises fresh doubts over Trump’s NATO commitment

Updated 16 January 2019
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Report raises fresh doubts over Trump’s NATO commitment

  • Last year, Trump repeatedly told senior officials that he did not see the point of NATO
  • Before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete”

WASHINGTON: Fresh doubts surfaced Tuesday over President Donald Trump’s commitment to NATO, after he was reported to have discussed a desire to pull out of the trans-Atlantic military alliance.
Last year, Trump repeatedly told senior officials that he did not see the point of NATO — the historic alliance that forms the backbone of the West’s post-World War II security order — and that he wanted to withdraw, The New York Times reported.
He has often blasted members of the 29-nation partnership for not paying more into their national defense budgets.
Before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete” and soon after a tumultuous summit in July, he questioned whether the US would honor the alliance’s founding principle of mutual defense for newest member Montenegro.
Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US remains “100 percent” committed to NATO.
At the summit the president said the US “commitment to NATO is very strong” and “tremendous progress has been made” by allies and partners.
“That has not changed,” Pahon said in a statement.
“NATO remains the cornerstone of transatlantic security.”
In Brussels, a NATO official also highlighted Trump’s comments from the July summit.
“The United States is strongly committed to NATO and to transatlantic security,” the official told AFP.
“The US has significantly boosted its commitment to the defense of Europe, including with increased troop commitments.”
Turning 70 this year, NATO has underpinned Western security in Europe for decades, first countering the Soviet Union and then Russian expansionism.
A US withdrawal from NATO would be a strategic gift of epic proportions to Russia, which is accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential elections to help Trump win.
Former defense secretary Jim Mattis was a staunch proponent of NATO and repeatedly visited its Brussels headquarters, where he sought to reassure allies about America’s commitment to the alliance.
But Mattis quit last month, and observers see a shrinking coterie of advisers around Trump willing to push back against him.
The US Congress, including Trump’s own Republican Party, would likely push back against any effort to withdraw from NATO.
The only country to have ever invoke Article 5, NATO’s collective defense principle, was America following the September 11, 2001 attacks.