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.


Pakistan reimposes ban on charities linked to militant leader

Updated 11 min 6 sec ago
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Pakistan reimposes ban on charities linked to militant leader

  • The ban comes as Pakistan faces international pressure to act against militant groups, amid escalating tension with its nuclear-armed neighbor, India
  • The two banned charities are linked to founder of another prominent extremist group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has re-instated a ban on two charities linked to the founder of a militant group that has carried out attacks in India, the interior ministry said on Friday.
The ban comes as Pakistan faces international pressure to act against militant groups, amid escalating tension with its nuclear-armed neighbor, India, following a suicide bomb attack on Indian police in the disputed region of Kashmir.
The attack, in which 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed, was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group.
The two banned charities are linked to founder of another prominent extremist group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Pakistan’s National Security Committee, made up of top military and civilian officials, decided late on Thursday to ban the charities liked to LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, who has long been on a UN international terrorism blacklist.
The United States and India have blamed the LeT for numerous deadly militant attacks, including a four-day siege by gunmen in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people.
The United States has offered $10 million for information leading to Saeed’s his arrest and conviction.
“It was decided during the meeting to accelerate action against proscribed organizations,” Pakistan’s interior ministry said in a statement.
Saeed, who denies being the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks and says he has no links to militant violence, has maintained that the two charities — the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) — are vital for helping the poor and have militant ties.
JuD spokesman Yahya Mujahid said the two groups would turn to the courts to overturn the latest ban.
Saeed has been placed under house arrest several times over the past decade but he has always been released after a few months and has mostly been living freely in Pakistan, to the anger of both India and the United States.
Pakistan has long banned the LeT but for many years allowed its charity wings to operate an extensive network including 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services.
The United States has repeatedly complained about Pakistan’s failure to shut down the charities it deems “terrorist fronts” for LeT.
Pakistan last year banned the two charities but the order was temporary and it lapsed.
India has ratcheted up pressure on Pakistan since the Feb. 14 attack in Indian-administered Kashmir.
India accused Pakistan of having a hand in the attack. Pakistan denies that.
Pakistan has also been placed on an international watchlist for failing to curb terrorist financing.