US Navy demands action against sexual offenders

Updated 10 November 2012
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US Navy demands action against sexual offenders

NORFOLK, Virginia: The US Navy is telling its leaders around the world to work harder on preventing sexual assaults by sailors after two enlisted men were arrested in Japan on rape charges, inflaming tensions with a critical ally in the region.
The alleged rape was reported Oct. 16 in Okinawa, leading to an uproar on the island and a sharp rebuke from the Japanese government. According to Japanese media, the sailors had been drinking before they attacked the woman, in her 20s, who was on her way home before dawn.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. We cannot comprehend the grief and trauma she has endured. We are appalled that such violent criminal behavior reportedly emerged from our ranks,” Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, and Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of US Fleet Forces command, wrote in a message to their top officers and enlisted leaders on Nov 3.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the message on Friday.
Charged in the case are Seaman Christopher Browning of Athens, Texas, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker of Muskogee, Oklahoma. Both are 23, joined the military in 2008 and are assigned to Joint Naval Air Station, Fort Worth, Texas.
Following their arrest, all US military personnel in the country were subjected to a curfew and other restrictions by US Forces Japan. The 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew applies to US military personnel whether they are stationed in Japan or just visiting. It requires them to be in their homes, on base or wherever they are lodging.
Tensions between the US military and their Okinawan hosts are long-standing.
Local opposition to the US bases over noise, safety concerns and crime flared into mass protests after the 1995 rape of a schoolgirl by three American servicemen. That outcry eventually led to an agreement to close a major Marine airfield, but that plan has stalled for more than a decade over where a replacement facility should be located.
“All hands must understand that liberty is a mission with strategic implications. Our warfighting strategy relies in part on the willingness of host nations to provide our forces access to their ports. To support this mission area, our sailors must be exemplary ambassadors of our Navy and our nation,” Haney and Gortney wrote.
Sexual assaults have long been a problem in the Navy, with 496 involving sailors being reported in the 2012 fiscal year.
The Navy has placed unprecedented attention on addressing the issue this year, hoping the continued involvement of its top admirals will send a message that it’s not something that will be tolerated.
“These staggering numbers and the horrific incident in Okinawa gives us all reason for action,” Haney and Gortney wrote.
Among other things, the Navy has been working to reduce alcohol abuse and get junior sailors to step in and stop their colleagues from putting themselves in a situation where an assault might occur before it ever happens.
Haney and Gortney’s message reiterated the importance of making sure every commanding officer’s crew does that.
“Our professional and personal behavior directly affects our warfighting readiness,” they wrote. “This inappropriate behavior is unacceptable. We demand your attention and leadership.”


Leaders of two Koreas hold surprise meeting as Trump revives summit hopes

Updated 13 min 56 sec ago
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Leaders of two Koreas hold surprise meeting as Trump revives summit hopes

SEOUL/WASHINGTON: South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a surprise meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday in an effort to ensure that a high-stakes summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump takes place successfully, South Korean officials said.
The meeting was the latest dramatic turn in a week of diplomatic flip-flops surrounding the prospects for an unprecedented summit between the United States and North Korea, and the strongest sign yet that the two Korean leaders are trying to keep the on-again off-again summit on track.
Their two hours of talks at the Panmunjom border village came a month after they held the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade at the same venue. At that meeting, they declared they would work toward a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
“The two leaders candidly exchanged views about making the North Korea-US summit a successful one and about implementing the Panmunjom Declaration,” South Korea’s presidential spokesman said in a statement. He did not confirm how the meeting was arranged or which side asked for it.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. But White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said an advance team of White House and US State Department officials would leave for Singapore on schedule this weekend to prepare for a possible summit there.
Reuters reported earlier this week that a US advance team was scheduled to discuss the agenda and logistics for the summit with North Korean officials.
“There is a very strong possibility a US-North Korea summit could be back on very soon,” said Harry Kazianis of the conservative Center for the National Interest think-tank in Washington.
Whether one takes place depends on Kim agreeing to some sort of a realistic and verifiable denuclearization plan, added Kazianis, citing his own Trump administration sources. “If not, no summit. That is what it hinges on,” he said.
TRUMP HAILS “PRODUCTIVE TALKS“
In a letter to Kim on Thursday, Trump had said he was canceling the summit planned for June 12 in Singapore, citing North Korea’s “open hostility.”
But on Friday he indicated the meeting could be salvaged after welcoming a conciliatory statement from Pyongyang.
“We’re talking to them now. They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
In a tweet later, Trump cited “very productive talks” and said that if the summit were reinstated it would likely remain in Singapore on June 12, and that it could be extended if necessary.
A senior White House official told reporters on Thursday that organizing a summit by June 12 could be a challenge, given the amount of dialogue needed to ensure a clear agenda.
“And June 12 is in ... 10 minutes,” the official said.
If the summit is not held, some analysts warn that the prospect of a military confrontation between the two nations would rise, while a successful summit would mark Trump’s biggest foreign policy achievement.
The Trump administration is demanding that North Korea completely and irreversibly shutter its nuclear weapons program. Kim and Trump’s initial decision to meet followed months of war threats and insults between the leaders over the program.
Pyongyang has conducted six nuclear tests, and has developed a long-range missile that could theoretically hit anywhere in the United States. Experts, however, are doubtful that North Korea possesses a warhead capable of surviving the stresses of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.
Video and a photo released by South Korea’s presidential Blue House on Saturday showed Kim hugging Moon and kissing him on the cheek three times as he saw Moon off after their meeting at Tongilgak, the North’s building in the truce village, which lies in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) — the 2.5-mile (4 km) wide buffer that runs along the heavily armed military border.
Video footage also showed Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, greeting Moon as he arrived at Tongilgak and shaking hands, before the South Korean leader entered the building flanked by North Korean military guards.
Moon is the only South Korean leader to have met a North Korean leader twice, both times in the DMZ, which is a symbol of the unending hostilities between the nations after the Korean War ended in 1953 in a truce, not a peace treaty.