Connect with us

International

South Korea proposes high-level talks with North, after Kim Jong-Un’s New Year olive branch

Published

on

IST


Seoul : South Korea Tuesday proposed holding high-level talks with Pyongyang on January 9, after the North`s leader Kim Jong-Un called for a breakthrough in relations and said Pyongyang might attend the Winter Olympics.

Kim used his annual New Year address to underscore Pyongyangs claim that it has developed a weapons deterrent and warn that he had a "nuclear button" on hand, but sweetened his remarks by expressing an interest in dialogue and participating in the Souths Games.

South Korea`s unification minister Cho Myoung-Gyon said Seoul was “reiterating our willingness to hold talks with the North at any time and place in any form”.

 

“We hope that the South and North can sit face to face and discuss the participation of the North Korean delegation at the Pyeongchang Games as well as other issues of mutual interest for the improvement of inter-Korean ties,” he said at a press conference.

The two Koreas, which have been separated by a tense demilitarised zone since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war, last held high-level talks in 2015.

Dovish South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who has long favoured engagement to defuse tension with the North, earlier Tuesday welcomed Kim`s suggestion that there could be an opportunity to kick-start dialogue.

However, he indicated that improvements in inter-Korean ties must go hand in hand with steps towards denuclearisation.

Moon proposed Red Cross and military talks last year, but his requests were not answered by Pyongyang.

The North has rattled the international community in recent months with multiple missile launches and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test – purportedly of a hydrogen bomb.

Pyongyang has shrugged off a raft of new sanctions and heightened rhetoric from the United States as it continued to drive forwards with a weapons programme that it says is defensive and aimed at developing a warhead capable of targeting the US mainland.

Kim’s comments were the first indication of North Korea`s willingness to participate in the Winter Games, which run from February 9 to 25.

Moon called them a “positive response” to Seoul`s hope that the Pyeongchang Olympics would be a “groundbreaking opportunity for peace”.

The main Winter Olympic venues are just 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the heavily fortified border with the North and the build-up to the event has been overshadowed by surging tensions over Pyongyang`s nuclear and missile tests.

In his speech Monday, Kim said the Olympics could provide a reason for officials from the neighbours “to meet in the near future”.

Seoul and the Games organisers are keen for the North to take part.

Two North Korean athletes — pairs figure skaters Ryom Tae-Ok and Kim Ju-Sik — qualified for the Games but Pyongyang`s Olympic Committee missed an October 30 deadline to confirm to the International Skating Union that they would participate.

The pair could still be invited to compete by the International Olympic Committee.

North Korea`s past participation in sporting events in the South has largely depended on the political and military situation, though they did send a full team to the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, near Seoul.


Comments

International

Trump to meet Kim Jong-un again in late February: White House

Agencies

Published

on

WASHINGTON: The White House announced that US President Donald Trump will hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in late February.

During the meeting, the two leaders will hold talks over the steps taken by Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear and missile programmes. It may be recalled that the first meeting between the two leaders was held on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. The White House, however, did not reveal where the two leaders will meet in February.

The White House made the announcement shortly after Trump held a meeting with North Korean envoy, Kim Yong Chol, on Friday for a discussion that included talk about Kim Jong-un’s unfulfilled pledge to dismantle nuclear weapons programmes of North Korea.

 

“President Donald J Trump met with Kim Yong Chol for an hour and half, to discuss denuclearization and a second summit, which will take place near the end of February. The president looks forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at a place to be announced at a later date,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

The press secretary told reporters: “We continue to make progress, we continue to have conversations. The US is going to continue to keep “pressure and sanctions” on North Korea until “we see fully and verifiable denuclearization”. We had very good steps and very good faith from the North Koreans with the release of hostages and other moves and so we’ll continue this conversation.And the President looks forward to it next February.”

Kim yong Chol arrived at the White House after meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun at a hotel in Washington.

“The Secretary, Special Representative Biegun, and Vice Chairman Kim discussed efforts to make progress on the commitments President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un made at their summit in Singapore. At the conclusion of the Secretary’s meeting with Vice Chairman Kim, the two sides held a productive first meeting at the working level,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said.

Continue Reading

International

Blast targets Al Qaeda ally in Syria, kills 11

Agencies

Published

on

BEIRUT: An explosion outside an office belonging to an Al Qaeda-linked group in Syria’s northwest killed at least 11 people and wounded several others, opposition activists said.

The blast comes a week after members of the Al Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee, or HTS, took over control of wide parts of Idlib province and the surrounding countryside after forcing rival insurgents to accept a deal for a civil administration run by HTS in their areas.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Smart news agency, an activist collective, said the blast occurred on the southern edge of the rebel-held city of Idlib.

 

The observatory said 11 people were killed in the blast, including seven HTS members. Smart said 12 people were killed, many of them militants.

In the country’s east, an air strike in the last area held by the militant Islamic State group killed at least 20 people.

State news agency SANA said 20 people were killed in the air strike on the IS-held village of Baghouz, while the observatory said 23 people were killed including 10 IS members.

They both blamed the US-led coalition that has been providing air cover to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their monthslong offensive to capture the area from extremists near the Iraqi border.

The SDF has intensified its offensive over the past weeks on the IS-held area.

Meanwhile in Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan met with US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to discuss the situation in Syria as the United States prepares to withdraw troops.

Graham, a prominent voice on foreign affairs in the US, met with Erdogan and other Turkish officials on Friday for talks that were also expected to include a proposal for the creation of a “safe zone” in northeast Syria.

The visit comes days after a suicide bombing, claimed by IS, killed two US service members and two American civilians in the northeastern town of Manbij.

Graham has said he is concerned that US President Donald Trump’s troop withdrawal announcement had emboldened IS militants and created dangerous uncertainty for American allies.

The Pentagon identified three of the four Americans killed in the suicide bomb attack in Manbij Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, who was based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, from upstate New York and based at Fort Meade, Maryland; and a civilian, Scott A. Wirtz, from St. Louis.

The Pentagon hasn’t identified the fourth casualty, a civilian contractor.

Continue Reading

International

Pakistan rules out India’s role in Afghan peace process

Agencies

Published

on

Islamabad: Pakistan has ruled out any role for India in the Afghan peace process, the media reported on Friday.

“India has no role in Afghanistan,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said at the weekly media briefing on Thursday while responding to a query about Islamabad’s position on New Delhi’s part in the reconciliation process.

Faisal acknowledged that Pakistan has a difficult relationship with India, saying that despite Pakistan’s efforts for normalisation, no concrete progress could be achieved in ties with India, Dawn news reported.

 

“You all know that India is not willing to engage with Pakistan,” he reminded.

Faisal’s remarks were in sharp contrast to what Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had told the National Assembly last month.

“Since India is present in Afghanistan, its cooperation in this regard (facilitating a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict) will also be required,” he had told legislators.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan on Thursday to discuss with the senior civil and military leadership the latest efforts to bring peace to the war-torn country.

Khalilzad, who met Taliban representatives last month in Abu Dhabi, is leading an inter-agency delegation to India, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan from January 8-21 to “facilitate a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan”.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to The Kashmir Monitor via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Kashmir Monitor and receive notifications of new stories by email.

Join 980,016 other subscribers

Archives

January 2019
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
Advertisement