South Korea displays F-35 stealth jets seen by the North as a threat

A Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet lands at the Payerne Air Base in Switzerand during flight and ground tests in this June 7, 2019 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 01 October 2019

South Korea displays F-35 stealth jets seen by the North as a threat

  • North Korea has criticized the South’s weapons procurements and its joint military drills with the US military
  • Analysts have said the F-35 stealth jets put Pyongyang’s anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems in a vulnerable position

SEOUL: South Korea showcased newly acquired F-35 stealth fighter jets to mark Armed Forces Day on Tuesday as President Moon Jae-in tried to allay concerns that his policy of engagement with North Korea would weaken the South’s commitment to defense.
At an event marking the founding of the South Korean military, Moon said South Korean fighter jets conducted patrol flights offshore, including over islands at the center of a bitter territorial dispute with Japan.
North Korea has criticized the South’s weapons procurements and its joint military drills with the US military as undisguised preparations for war that are forcing it to develop new short-range missiles.
Moon has thrown his support behind dialogue to end the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, urging that working-level negotiations between the North and the United States be held soon. No new dates or locations have been set.
Moon marked Armed Forces Day at a ceremony at an air base in the city of Daegu that highlighted four of the eight Lockheed Martin F-35A jets delivered this year. Forty of the aircraft are to be delivered by 2021.
During the event, an F-15K jet patrolled over the islands claimed by both South Korea and Japan and called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan.
Moon made no direction mention of North Korea or Japan but said today’s security climate was highly unpredictable, requiring strength and innovation.
“As the recent drone attack in the Middle East region demonstrated to the world, the challenges that we will face will be entirely different from those of the past,” he said in an address to the military. “The war of the future will be a fight of science and intelligence against all elements that threaten our people’s safety and property.”
Analysts have said the F-35 stealth jets put North Korea’s anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems in a vulnerable position.
Negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have stalled since a second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un broke down in February over disagreements on denuclearization.
North Korea blamed the United States on Monday for a failure to restart talks, with Pyongyang’s UN ambassador Kim Song saying it was time for Washington to share proposals for talks that showed Washington had adopted a new “calculation method.”
South Korea and the United States have separately begun talks for a new military burden-sharing agreement to decide how much South Korea will pay for stationing what is now about 28,500 US troops in the country.
Moon told Trump during a summit in New York last week what South Korea would contribute, including an increase in purchases of US weapons and future purchase plans, a senior official at South Korea’s presidential office said.


Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.