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Tillerson ends China trip with warm words from President Xi

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before their meeting at at the Great Hall of the People on March 19, 2017 in Beijing, China. REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool

With warm words from Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and putting aside trickier issues.

China has been irritated at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and the U.S. decision to base an advanced missile defense system in South Korea.

Beijing is also deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions toward self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own, with the Trump administration crafting a big new arms package for the island that is bound to anger China.

But meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, those issues were brushed aside by Xi and Tillerson, at least in front of reporters, with Xi saying Tillerson had made a lot of efforts to achieve a smooth transition in a new era of relations.

“You said that China-U.S. relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this,” Xi said.

Xi said he had communicated with President Donald Trump several times through telephone conversations and messages.

“We both believe that China-U.S. cooperation henceforth is the direction we are both striving for. We are both expecting a new era for constructive development,” Xi said.

“The joint interests of China and the United States far outweigh the differences, and cooperation is the only correct choice for us both,” Xi added, in comments carried by China’s Foreign Ministry.

China and the United States must strengthen coordination of hot regional issues, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and protect the broad stability of ties, Xi said.

Tillerson replied that Trump looks forward to enhancing understanding with China and the opportunity for a visit in the future.

Tillerson said Trump places a “very high value on the communications that have already occurred” between Xi and Trump.

“And he looks forward to enhancing that understanding in the opportunity for a visit in the future,” Tillerson said.

“We know that through further dialogue we will achieve a greater understanding that will lead to a strengthened — strengthening of the ties between China and the United States and set the tone for our future relationship of cooperation.”

Trump has so far been an unpredictable partner for China, attacking Beijing on issues ranging from trade to the South China Sea and in December by talking to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Two days after accusing China of doing too little to help curb Pyongyang’s weapons drive, Trump told reporters he held meetings on North Korea over the weekend at his Florida resort and said the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, was “acting very, very badly.”

Underscoring the tensions, North Korea conducted a test of a new high-thrust engine at its Tongchang-ri rocket launch station, and Kim said the successful test was “a new birth” of its rocket industry, Pyongyang’s official media said on Sunday.

SOME PROGRESS

Speaking in Seoul on Friday, Tillerson issued the Trump administration’s starkest warning yet to North Korea, saying in Seoul that a military response would be “on the table” if Pyongyang took action to threaten South Korean and U.S. forces.

Still, China and the United States appeared to have made some progress or put aside differences on difficult issues, at least in advance of a planned summit between Xi and Trump.

Both Tillerson and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi struck a more conciliatory tone in their meeting, with Tillerson saying the United States and China would work together to get nuclear-armed North Korea to take “a different course”.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, and is believed by experts and government officials to be working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that could reach the United States.

Washington wants China, the North’s neighbor and main trading partner, to use its influence to rein in the weapons programs.

China says it is committed to enforcing U.N. sanctions on North Korea, but all sides have a responsibility to lessen tensions and get back to the negotiating table.

Chinese official also repeatedly say they do not have the influence over North Korea that Washington and others believe, and express fears poverty-struck North Korea could collapse if it were cut off completely, pushing destabilizing waves of refugees into northeastern China. — By Yeganeh Torbati and Michael Martina | BEIJING

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Florida; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Sandra Maler)

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SoKor says NoKor expresses commitment to ‘complete denuclearization’

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

FILE PHOTOS: (Left-Right) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (REUTERS)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will sit down at the border “truce village” of Panmunjom to discuss a range of issues, including Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Days before the upcoming summit, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said the North has expressed its commitment to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula and is not seeking conditions.

Moon also explained that the North has not attached any conditions that the US cannot accept, like the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea.

“Now, North Korea is expressing a will to seek a complete denuclearisation to the international society. Also, they are showing us a will to have dialogues,” said the South Korean president.

North Korea has defended its nuclear and missile programmes, which it pursues in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, as a necessary deterrent against perceived US hostility.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war.

North Korea has said over the years that it could consider giving up its nuclear arsenal if the United States will its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan.

However, in the latest development, Moon revealed that Pyongyang has expressed willingness to drop its demand that the United States withdraw troops stationed in the South in exchange for denuclearization.

This comes after President Donald Trump announced he is willing to leave the meeting with Kim if it falls short of his expectations. -Reuters

 

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Pompeo visits North Korea, forms ‘good relationship with Kim’, says Trump

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: A combination photo shows CIA Director Mike Pompeo (L) in Washington, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) in Pyongyang, North Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump (R), in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., respectively from Reuters files. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (L) & KCNA handout via Reuters & Kevin Lamarque (R)

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) – CIA director Mike Pompeo, U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee to become the top U.S. diplomat, visited North Korea last week and met leader Kim Jong Un with whom he formed a “good relationship”, Trump said on Wednesday.

Pompeo became the most senior U.S. official known to have met Kim when he visited Pyongyang to discuss a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!” Trump said on Twitter.

Pompeo’s visit and the Tweet provide the strongest sign yet about Trump’s willingness to become the first serving U.S. president ever to meet a North Korean leader, amid a protracted standoff over the North’s nuclear and missile programs it pursues in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

U.S. officials said earlier Pompeo visited over the Easter weekend, March 31 to April 2. Representatives for the White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to a query on the exact date of the meeting with Kim.

At the same time, old rivals North Korea and South Korea are preparing for their own summit, between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, on April 27, with a bid to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War a major factor in talks.

“As one of the plans, we are looking at a possibility of shifting the Korean peninsula’s armistice to a peace regime,” a top South Korean presidential official told reporters in Seoul earlier on Wednesday when asked about the North-South summit.

“But that’s not a matter than can be resolved between the two Koreas alone. It requires close consultations with other concerned nations, as well as North Korea,” the official said.

South Korea and a U.S.-led U.N. force are technically still at war with North Korea after the Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. The U.S.-led United Nations Command, Chinese forces and North Korea signed the 1953 armistice, to which South Korea is not a party.

“I do not know if any joint statement to be reached at the inter-Korean summit would include wording about ending the war, but we certainly hope to be able to include an agreement to end hostile acts between the South and North,” the official said.

Trump said on Tuesday he backed efforts between North and South Korea aimed at ending the state of war.

Such discussions between the two Koreas, and between North Korea and the United States, would have been unthinkable at the end of last year, after months of escalating tension, and fear of war, over the North’s weapons programs.

But then Kim declared in a New Year’s speech his country was “a peace-loving and responsible nuclear power” and called for lower military tension and improved ties with the South.

He also said he was considering sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February, a visit that began a succession of steps to improve ties.

But finance ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries said in a statement they were still concerned about North Korea’s evasion of sanctions and its “ability to access the international financial system”.

CHINA’S XI TO VISIT PYONGYANG?

Pompeo’s visit to the North was arranged by South Korean intelligence chief Suh Hoon with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, and was intended to assess whether Kim was prepared to hold serious talks, a U.S. official said.

Pompeo flew from a U.S. air force base in Osan, south of Seoul, an official with the South’s defense ministry said. The South’s presidential office declined to comment on the trip.

Amid the diplomatic flurry, CNN reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping also planned to visit Pyongyang soon, after North Korean leader Kim made a surprise trip last month to China, its major sole ally.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had no information about any Xi visit to North Korea.

“What I can stress is that China and North Korea have a tradition of high level mutual visits,” she told reporters.

“China is willing to strengthen high-level exchanges with North Korea, deepen strategic communications, expand talks and cooperation, and to bring out the important leading role of high-level contact in China-North Korea relations.”

Trump said on Tuesday he believed there was a lot of goodwill in the diplomatic push with North Korea, but added it was possible the summit – first proposed in March and which the president said could take place in late May or early June – may not happen, in which case the United States and its allies would maintain pressure on North Korea through sanctions.

Nevertheless, Pompeo’s conversations in North Korea had fueled Trump’s belief that productive negotiations were possible, according to a U.S. senior official briefed on the trip.

The two Koreas have meanwhile been pressing ahead with preparations for the inter-Korean summit next week.

South Korea’s presidential office said they had agreed to broadcast live, for the first time, parts of the summit, including the hand shake between the two leaders.

Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim and Joyce Lee in SEOUL, Susan Heavey, John Walcott and Steve Holland in WASHINGTON, and Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie

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Meeting with Trump to focus on NoKor – Japan PM

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the opening of a welcome dinner hosted by Abe at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan, November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Shizuo Kambayashi/Pool

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday that his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump will focus on seeking common ground on how to deal with North Korea’s nuclear challenge.

The comment comes amid fears in Tokyo that Trump might be prone to make too many concessions.

Japan wants Trump to avoid a deal in which Pyongyang gives up ballistic missiles that can hit the U.S. mainland but keeps shorter-range missiles that threaten Japan.

Abe also wants Trump to bring up the topic of Japanese citizens kidnapped by Pyongyang in the past.

The Japanese prime minister is due to arrive at Trump’s Mar-a Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, for two days of talks expected to also cover trade and relations with China. — Reuters

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