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North and South Korean leaders shake hands at the border

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, April 27th, 2018

Kim holding Moon’s hand as both step across to the North Korea side of the border (REUTERS)

Smiling and shaking hands, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met at the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between the countries on Friday (April 27,) in the first summit for the two Koreas in over a decade.

Moon greeted Kim at the military demarcation line at 9:30 a.m. (0030 GMT), making Kim the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Kim invited Moon to step briefly across the demarcation line into North Korea, before the two leaders crossed back into South Korea holding hands.

The two were handed flowers by a South Korean boy and girl, residents of a village situated in the demilitarized zone. – Reuters

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Trump thanks Kim as North Korea hands over Korean War remains

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2018

A soldier carries a casket containing the remains of a U.S. soldier who was killed in the Korean War during a ceremony at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea on Friday handed over 55 boxes carrying remains thought to be of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, a first step in implementing an agreement reached at a landmark summit in June.

The handover of the boxes, draped in the blue and white flag of the United Nations, represents a modest diplomatic triumph for U.S. President Donald Trump from his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore that was aimed primarily at persuading North Korea to give up a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States.

“I want to thank Chairman Kim for keeping his word,” Trump said at a White House event, at which he hailed “great fallen heroes from America.”

“We have many others coming. But I want to thank Chairman Kim in front of the media for fulfilling a promise that he made to me. And I’m sure that he will continue to fulfill that promise as they search and search and search,” Trump said.

The transfer of the remains coincided with the 65th anniversary of the 1953 armistice that ended fighting between North Korean and Chinese forces and South Korean and U.S.-led forces under the U.N. Command. The two sides remain technically at war because a peace treaty was never signed.

More than 7,700 U.S. troops remain unaccounted for from the Korea War. About 5,300 were lost in what is now North Korea.

The pledge to transfer war remains was seen as a goodwill gesture by Kim at the summit. While it has taken longer than some U.S. officials had hoped, the handover will rekindle hopes for progress in nuclear talks, which so far has appeared scant.

Kim committed in a broad summit statement to work toward denuclearization but Pyongyang has offered no details, raising doubts about whether he is willing to give up his weapons unilaterally, as Washington has demanded.

In a statement on the remains handover, the White House said it was “encouraged by North Korea’s actions and the momentum for positive change.” South Korea called it “meaningful progress that could contribute to fostering trust” between Pyongyang and Washington.

A U.S. military transport plane flew the remains from North Korea’s northeastern city of Wonsan to Osan air base in South Korea.

At Osan, soldiers in dress uniforms with white gloves slowly carried the 55 cases to waiting vans.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters the remains would be reviewed initially in Korea before being flown to Hawaii for forensic identification.

While there was no indication of anything amiss, he said, it was still not known who was in the boxes.

“You noticed there was a U.N. blue flag on each of the boxes. Many of the U.N. nations with us also have missing,” he said.

“As we discover it, they’ll be returned and they could go to Australia; they have missing. France has missing. America has – there’s a whole lot of us,” he said.

“We have families when they got the telegram have never had closure. They’ve never gone out and had the body returned. What we’re seeing here is an opportunity to give those families closure, to make certain that we continue to look for those remaining.”

JOINT SEARCHES
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 15 that Washington and Pyongyang had agreed to recommence field operations in North Korea to search for the thousands of Americans who never returned home from North Korea.

Mattis said the U.S. military was “absolutely” considering the possibility of sending personnel to North Korea for this purpose. He told reporters Friday’s handover set a positive tone for broader diplomatic negotiations.

The United States and North Korea conducted joint searches from 1996 until 2005, when Washington halted the operations, citing concerns about the safety of its personnel as Pyongyang stepped up its nuclear program.

More than 400 caskets of remains found in North Korea were returned to the United States between the 1990s and 2005, with the bodies of some 330 other Americans also accounted for, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

The program helped bring in vital hard currency to North Korea, which has been under U.S.-led sanctions for decades. However, reviving it could complicate U.S. efforts to persuade countries around the world to maintain economic pressure on Pyongyang.

Pyongyang has renewed calls for a declaration of the end of the Korean War, calling it the “first process for peace” and an important way Washington can add heft to security guarantees it has pledged in return for North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons.

The U.S. State Department says Washington is committed to building a peace mechanism to replace the armistice when North Korea has denuclearized.

Pompeo said on Wednesday North Korea was continuing to produce fuel for nuclear bombs despite its pledge to denuclearize, even as he argued that the United States was making progress in talks with Pyongyang.

Pompeo said North Korea had begun to dismantle a missile test site, something Kim also promised in Singapore, and called it “a good thing, steps forward.”

However, he said North Korea needed to follow through on its summit commitments to denuclearize and stressed the need to maintain sanctions until it did so.

Reporting by Eric Beech, David Brunnstrom, David Alexander and Phil Stewart in WASHINGTON and Joyce Lee and Hyonhee Shin in SEOUL; Editing by Nick Macfie and James Dalgleish

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South Korean court hands former president Park another 8 years in jail

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2018

Park Geun-hye. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

 

A South Korean court sentenced former president Park Geun-hye to eight more years in prison on Friday (July 20) after finding her guilty on charges of causing loss of government funds and interfering in a 2016 parliamentary election.

The Seoul Central District Court ruled that Park, who has already received a 24-year jail term over separate corruption charges, colluded with her former aides to cause the loss of government funds worth about 30 billion won ($26.49 million) from the National Intelligence Service.

She was also found guilty of interfering in the ruling party’s selection of candidates for the parliamentary election.

Park, 66, has denied wrongdoing and was not present in court. She was found guilty by a lower court in April of separate charges including bribery, abuse of power and coercion. -Reuters

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North and South Korean male basketball players hold friendly match in Pyongyang

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Peace team formed with a mixture of North and South Korean men players arrive at gym in Pyongyang, Nortk Korea, July 4, 2018. Korea Pool/Yonhap via REUTERS

North and South Korea joined forces for their first basketball friendly in 15 years on Wednesday (July 4) amid a warming of relations since the Winter Olympics in the South and easing tensions over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

Following female players’ match, male players took to the court in two joint North-South teams, “Peace” and “Prosperity”, in an indoor stadium in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. The game ended in a 102-102 draw, according to Press Pool in Pyongyang.

North Korean leader and basketball fan Kim Jong Un was not spotted in the crowd on Wednesday but the chairman of the North’s National Sports Guidance Committee, Choe Hwi, who also visited South Korea for the Winter Olympics, was sitting next to the South’s Unification Minister, Cho Myong-gyon, cheering on the teams and clapping their hands.

Kim had suggested the friendlies to South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April when the two held their first summit at the border village of Panmunjom straddling the two Koreas. The South Korean team will return on Friday (July 6) after two more games on Thursday (July 5), this time with teams divided by country   but no flags being shown. — Reuters

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