North Korea: Time running out for fresh US talks on denuclearization

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reads a letter from US President Donald Trump in Pyongyang in this picture released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on June 22, 2019. (KCNA via Reuters)
Updated 27 June 2019
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North Korea: Time running out for fresh US talks on denuclearization

  • The United States is in behind-the-scenes talks with North Korea over a possible third summit
  • Pyongyang says the recent US extension of sanctions against North Korea was an act of hostility

SEOUL: The United States should take action to present a new strategy to revive denuclearization talks, a North Korean diplomat in charge of US affairs said on Thursday, warning time was running out ahead of a year-end deadline set by Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said after the collapse of his second summit with US President Donald Trump in February that a third meeting would be possible only if Washington adopted a more flexible approach. Kim said he will wait until the end of the year.
The United States is in behind-the-scenes talks with North Korea over a possible third summit and has proposed reviving working-level negotiations, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday.
Trump said on Wednesday he would not meet with the North Korean leader during his trip to Asia for the G20 summit in Japan this week, which will include a visit to South Korea.
Kwon Jong Gun, director for US affairs at the North’s foreign ministry, said the United States had recently spoke of dialogue while “contemptibly committing hostile acts.”
He did not elaborate, but a foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that the recent US extension of sanctions against North Korea was an act of hostility and an outright challenge to the first summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore last year.
“Dialogue doesn’t happen by itself when the United States doesn’t act to come up with a realistic approach that serves the interests of both sides and speaks of a restart of talks like a parrot,” Kwon said in a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency.
“The United States doesn’t have much time left if it were to move to produce results.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that a recent exchange of letters between Trump and Kim boosted hopes for a restart of talks, calling it a “very real possibility.”


Afghan forces kill seven civilians in attack on militants

Updated 30 min 55 sec ago
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Afghan forces kill seven civilians in attack on militants

  • The seven civilians, including women and children, were killed in Logar province, just south of Kabul, on Sunday night
  • Afghan forces, backed by US advisers, have in recent months stepped up their air strikes and raids to the highest levels since 2014

KABUL: Afghan government forces mistakenly killed seven civilians, including children, in an attack on militants south of the capital, a provincial official said on Monday, the latest victims of a war undiminished by peace talks.
Government forces, have been facing Taliban attacks across much of the country, and have responded with air strikes aimed at killing insurgent leaders, even as US and Afghan representatives have been negotiating with the militants in Qatar.
The seven civilians, including women and children, were killed in Logar province, just south of Kabul, on Sunday night said Hasib Stanekzai, a member of Logar’s provincial council. Six people were wounded, he said.
Provincial police confirmed the attack on militants by government forces but said they were investigating the casualties.
“According to our initial information a number of militants were killed or wounded, but local people gathered in the area, claiming that a house belonging to a Kuchi family had been bombed, causing civilian casualties,” said Shahpor Ahmadzai, a spokesman for Logar police.
Kuchi are nomadic herders, but some now live in permanent settlements.
Ahmadzai, who said police were investigating, also said foreign forces were involved in the attack on the militants. Officials with Afghanistan’s NATO force were not immediately available to confirm or deny their involvement in the operation.
Afghan forces, backed by US advisers, have in recent months stepped up their air strikes and raids to the highest levels since 2014.
The latest phase of Afghanistan’s war — which began when US-backed forces the overthrew the Taliban following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States — has intensified despite the most sustained peace talks of the war.
The United Nations has repeatedly expressed concern about civilian casualties, which reached their highest level last year since detailed accounting began nearly a decade ago.
The war claimed 3,804 civilian lives in 2018, that included 927 children, both figures all-time highs, representing an 11% increase in civilian deaths compared with 2017, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in February.