North Korea Invites South Korean President for Summit in Pyongyang

North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, on Saturday, invited South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, to North Korea for a summit in Pyongyang setting the stage for the first meeting between the Korean leaders for the first time in more than10 years.

Kim Jong-un’s invitation was presented by his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, at a historical meeting between the North and South Korean officials at the presidential palace in Seoul.

According to the Spokesperson for South Korea’s presidential palace,  Eui-kyeom, North Korea’s leader has invited South Korea’s President to visit Pyongyang as soon as possible. “Moon did not immediately accept the offer, calling instead for efforts to create the right conditions to realize such a visit and urging Pyongyang to actively seek dialogue with the US,” he said. He further stated that Moon has requested North Korea to engage in talks with the United States as early as possible.

 The proposed meet would be the third one between the two nations after the Korean war that ended in 1953. Ms Kim is the first senior member from North Korea to visit South Korea after the war. Ms Kim is in South Korea to attend the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Sources: BBC, FirstPost

Winter Olympics begin with two Koreas unified under one flag

Pyeongchang (S. Korea), February 09: The opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics saw the athletes from two Koreas marching into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium under the Korean unification flag. The two delegations walked out in matching uniforms under one flag, offering a hope of a breakthrough in the tense geo-political drama that has stirred global fears of a nuclear conflict.

According to The Guardian, the flag was jointly carried by South Korean bobsledder Won Yun-jong and North Korean ice hockey player Hwang Chung-gum. During the parade of nations, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

North Korea’s decision to participate in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang came in January when the two countries held high-level official talks for the first time in two years. It was considered a symbolic breakthrough amid rising global nuclear tensions.

Along with Kim Yo-jong, US Vice President Mike Pence was present during the opening ceremony, seated just ahead of the North Korean representative. Only earlier this week, United States had announced plans to impose tough sanctions against Pyongyang (capital of North Korea) for staging a military parade featuring an Inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) only days before the opening of Games.

North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games comes after a gap of eight years. The hermit kingdom had skipped the Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014. This year, they have sent a small delegation of 10 players, along with a unified team with S. Korea for women’s ice hockey.

SOURCE: New York Times, The Guardian

 

North and South Korea agree to hold border talks

Seoul, January 05: In a breakthrough for the two nations, North Korea and South Korea will be holding high-level official talks on Tuesday, January 09. The announcement came hours after the United States postponed its military exercise with South Korea scheduled during the Winter Olympics.

According to the South Korean Ministry of Unification, North Korea sent a message on the morning of January 05 expressing its consent to meet at a border truce village of Panmunjom, reports Associated Press. These talks will be focusing on cooperation at the Olympics, as well as on improving overall ties between the two Koreas. The delegates of the two nations are yet to be confirmed.

North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, had opened the way for talks during his New Year speech, expressing his willingness to ease military tensions between the divided peninsula, reports The New York Times. However, he remained steadfast on the issue of nuclear weapons, saying he has a “nuclear button” on his desk to fire atomic weapons at the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in announced the postponement of the annual military exercise, Foal Eagle, on Thursday. This exercise often involves more than 30,000 American and 200,000 South Korean troops, as well as air, ground and naval operations, reports Washington Post.

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be held in Pyeongchang from 09 to 25 February 2018.

Sources – Associated Press ,Reuters

Trump,South Korea say no to military trials during Winter Olympics

The Pentagon has released a statement saying that the US President, Donald Trump has reached a decision to delay the joint military trials that were to be held, until after the Winter Olympics. The Winter Olympics are to begin in Pyeongchang on the 9th of February.
According to the Pentagon spokesperson Colonel Rob Manning, Trump consulted with South Korean President Moon Jae-In to arrive at this decision as concerns over North Korea escalated.
The set of military exercises Foal Eagle are held during the months of February and April, especially to test the skill and preparation of armies of both countries.
The step was taken in light of claims made by Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN, that North Korea was testing nuclear weapons again. This is a direct violation of the UN commendations. The South Korean President, Mr. Moon had promised a more open policy with North Korea since his election campaign last year. His aim had been to broker peace using economic cooperation.
The UN spokesperson, Ms. Haley has announced explicitly that the US will not entertain any conversation with North Korea unless they put a ban on all nuclear testing.
Sources – Reuters, The Hindu

US, Japan, South Korea start missile tracking exercises

The United States, Japan and South Korea have started joint missile tracking exercises as tensions with North Korea continue to increase over North Korea’s rapidly emerging weapons programs.

The two day drills kicked off on Monday and will conclude on December 12. It comes less than two weeks after North Korea launched its most advanced missile on 28th November.

According to Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s Defence Minister, the drills are being held in waters off the coast of Japan.

Japan’s Maritime self-Defence force said that this exercise is the sixth drill aimed in tracking and sharing information on ballistic missiles between the three nations. Two US ships along with each from two Asian countries are taking part in the drill. Both South Korea and Japan have security alliances with the United States.

The United States has frequently asked China and other countries to cut diplomatic and trade ties with North Korea as an international effort to squeeze Pyongyang’s illegal cash flows that could fund its weapons programs.

South Korea on Sunday said that it will impose a new unilateral sanctions on 20 institutions and a dozen individuals in North Korea that will prevent illegal funds flowing to North Korea.

Sources: The Hindu, The Japan Times 

North Korea Fires an Intercontinental ballistic Missile

North Korea fired an Intercontinental ballistic missile that landed close to Japan this morning. According to the South Korean Military, the missile flew higher than any of the earlier efforts made by North Korea, reaching an altitude of around 4,500 km and distance of 960 km before splashing down in the water, nearly 621 miles from the launch site off the coast of Japan.

According to Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong Un after the launch said that North Korea has finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force. After the Launch, the US President, Donald Trump told the reporters at the white house that US will handle the situation.

Sinzo Abe, the President of Japan has described the launch as an intolerable and violent act. Geng Shuang, the Foreign Ministry spokesman of China has considered the test as the matter of a great concern and has called for peaceful talks to solve the crisis.

It was the first ballistic missile test from North Korea since it fired a missile over Japan on 15th September.

Sources: The Guardian, CNN

North Korea- Pakistan linked on Nuclear proliferation, says India

 

India sought investigation into North Korea’s nuclear linkages and asked to hold accountable for it, in a veiled reference to Pakistan. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister’s remarks came days after North Korea fired another missile (mid ranged ballistic) over Japanon Friday. Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar informed reporters at a news conference in New York. 

Violating the international rules, it carried out its most powerful nuclear test with a hydrogen bomb on 3rd September, triggering an artificial earthquake with a 6.3 magnitude. 

Swaraj’s response comes in regard with her trilateral meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on the United Nations General Assembly session. Kumar did not specifically mention Pakistan’s name, but surely suggested with hints. “I think I am giving you enough material to try to figure out what we are talking about,” he said. Reports indicate Pakistan had secretly supplied North Korea with nuclear enrichment technology when AQ Khan headed the former’s nuclear program. 

The three leaders discussed the issue of maritime security and connectivity. “We have spelled out what these heads mean on security the ministers emphasized the need to ensure freedom of navigation respect for international law and peaceful resolution of disputes,” said Kumar. 

Sources:

Indian Express, Hindustan Times