Pence: Time has come for European partners to stop undermining Iran sanctions

US Vice President Mike Pence gives a speech during the 55th Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on February 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 17 February 2019

Pence: Time has come for European partners to stop undermining Iran sanctions

  • Pence said Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world
  • He also called on the EU to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal

LONDON: It's time for the United States' European partners to “stop undermining” sanctions on Iran, US Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday at the Munich Security Conference. 

Speaking right after Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the 2015 Iran deal, Pence said: “The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining US sanctions against this murderous revolutionary regime” by continuing to offer economic incentives in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear capability. He said Europe should withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal “and join us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region and the world the peace, security and freedom they deserve.”
Pence also called Iran “the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world.” The Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust and it seeks the means to achieve it, Pence, who also visited the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, told delegates.
Pence said: “The time has come for our European partners to stand with us and with the Iranian people, our allies and friends in the region. The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”
The comments came after Merkel said she shared concerns about many Iranian efforts to grow its power in the region. While she said the split with the US over the nuclear agreement “depresses me very much,” she defended it as an important channel to Tehran.
“I see the ballistic missile program, I see Iran in Yemen and above all I see Iran in Syria,” she said.
Pence also vowed that the US would “hunt down” Daesh even after pulling its troops out of Syria, where the terrorists are facing the loss of their final scrap of land.
“The United States will continue to work with all our allies to hunt down the remnants of Daesh wherever and whenever they rear their ugly heads,” Pence said.
Meanwhile, US-backed fighters in Syria are poised to capture Daesh’s last, tiny enclave on the Euphrates, the battle commander said on Saturday, bringing its self-declared caliphate to the brink of total defeat.
Jiya Furat said the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had cornered the remaining militants in a neighborhood of Baghouz village near the Iraqi border, under fire from all sides. “In the coming few days, in a very short time, we will spread the good tidings to the world of the military end of Daesh,” he said.

(With AP & Reuters)


Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

Updated 16 September 2019

Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

  • Invitation extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited US President Donald Trump to Pyongyang in his latest letter to the American head of state,  South Korea’s top diplomat said on Monday.

“I heard detailed explanations from US officials that there was such a letter a while ago,” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa told a  parliamentary session. “But I’m not in a position to confirm what’s in the letter or when it was delivered.”

The foreign minister’s remarks followed reports by a local newspaper, JoongAng Ilbo, which said that Kim’s invitation was extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15.

If true, the invitation was made as diplomats of the two governments were in a tug-of-war over the resumption of working-level talks for the North’s denuclearization efforts.

During a surprise meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom on June 30, Trump and Kim pledged that working-level nuclear disarmament talks would resume within a month, but no such talks have been held,  with both sides indulging in a blame game instead.

“We are very curious about the background of the American top  diplomat’s thoughtless remarks and we will watch what calculations he has,” North Korea’s first vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said on Aug. 30 in a statement carried by the North’s official Central News Agency (KCNA). He was referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments terming Pyongyang’s rocket launches as “rogue.”

However, the tone has changed significantly with the communist state recently offering to return to dialogue with Washington “at a time and place agreed late in September.”

“I want to believe that the US side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides’ interests and is acceptable to us,” Choe said on Aug. 30.

On Monday, the director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s department of American affairs said working-level denuclearization talks will likely take place “in a few weeks” but demanded security guarantees and sanctions’ relief as prerequisites.

“The discussion of denuclearization may be possible when threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our  development are clearly removed beyond all doubt,” the statement said. 

HIGHLIGHT

It’s not clear whether the US president has responded to the invitation, thought he has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in was upbeat about the early resumption of nuclear talks.

“North Korea-US working-level dialogue will resume soon,” he said, citing an “unchanged commitment” to trust and peace by the leaders of both Koreas and the US. 

The working-level meeting will serve as a “force to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

Moon is scheduled to meet Trump on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session in New York next week.

“It will be an opportunity to share opinions and gather wisdom with Trump on the direction of further development of South Korea-US  relations,” he said.

The White House offered no immediate comment.

It’s not clear whether Trump responded to Kim’s invitation to Pyongyang, but the US commander-in-chief has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator, who oversaw the test-firings of short-range ballistic missiles and multiple launch rockets more than half a dozen times since late July.

While none of the projectiles are a direct threat to the US continent they still pose threats to US and its allied forces in South Korea and Japan.

“Kim Jong-un has been, you know, pretty straight with me, I think,” Trump told reporters on August 24 before flying off to meet with world leaders at the G7 in France. “And we’re going to see what’s going on. We’re going to see what’s happening. He likes testing missiles.”

Experts say the apparent firing of US National Security Adviser John Bolton has also boosted chances of fresh negotiations with the North, which had long criticized him for his hawkish approach toward the regime.

“The displacement of a ‘bad guy’ could be construed as a negotiating tactic to seek a breakthrough in the stalemate of nuclear talks. It’s a show of a will to engage the counterpart in a friendlier manner from the perspective of negotiation science,” Park Sang-ki, an adjunct professor at the department of business management at Sejong University in Seoul, told Arab News.