Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Peace at last between North and South Korea?

North South Korea join hands to get wrestling on UN culture list North Korea’s ‘peace gift’ puppies to South Korea pictured for first time
Leonard Rios | 30 November, 2018, 08:38

South Korean president Moon Jae-in unveiled puppies that were born from one of the dogs given to the South by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "peace gifts" in September.

Amid stalling denuclearization talks, Washington requested that North Korea change its chief negotiator for high-level talks from Kim Yong-chol, the vice chairman of the Central Committee of the North's ruling Workers' Party, to Pyongyang's top diplomat Ri Yong-ho, a South Korean government official said Wednesday.

A month before that, President Moon also said Kim had agreed to allow global inspectors to observe a "permanent dismantlement" of key missile facilities.

Pence welcomed "tremendous progress" in bilateral negotiations so far - North Korea's stoppage of missile testing and the return of USA hostages as well as the possible remains of American service members from the Korean War. He met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June which produced a vaguely-worded, joint statement agreeing to "the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" in return for unspecified security guarantees from the US.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, said recently that it has identified 13 of an estimated 20 missile operating bases that North Korea has not yet declared.

North and South Korea have long grappled over their joint symbols at the United Nations culture organization UNESCO, but they could share the honors this week when twin applications for traditional Korean wrestling come up for consideration.

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The Korean folk song "Arirang" has a similar story - the South's was recognised in 2012, followed by the North's two years later.

President Moon has also taken steps to ease military tensions with North Korea at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas.

Earlier news reports suggested Pompeo may meet his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong-chol, as early as this week. "The South Koreans could very well support such an outcome, particularly if they are caught up with a rush to peace".

North Korea had postponed a meeting scheduled for early this month in NY, in which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was expected to press Kim's regime to list its nuclear weapons and related sites. The government has yet to be notified by the North how many North Korean carriages will be added to the train.

Twenty-eight officials from the South will take part in the inspections, including officials from the unification and land ministries, and of the Korea Railroad Corporation and Korea Rail Network Authority. North Koreans are usually forbidden to enter Japan, under the sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its missile and nuclear tests. North Korea ignored the invitation. Last week, US Defence Secretary James Mattis foreshadowed that the annual joint Foal Eagle war games would proceed next year, albeit "reduced in scope" so as to keep from "being harmful to diplomacy". "Yes, certainly they do".

He also offered to dismantle the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon if the United States "takes corresponding measures".

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