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Trump’s North Korea summit may bring peace declaration – but at a cost

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un in Singapore for a historic summit on June 12. © Reuters

The two Koreas, ahead of a leaders’ summit next week, are discussing a peace agreement that could officially end the state of war that has technically lasted since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice but no treaty.

U.S. President Donald Trump said the effort has his “blessing”, if North Korea agreed to give up its nuclear arsenal.

South Korea and a U.S.-led U.N. force are technically still at war with North Korea and the idea of an official peace deal to change that is neither new, nor something that can be resolved in a single inter-Korean summit, analysts say.

What exactly might replace the armistice has been another point of doubt, and neither South Korean nor U.S. officials have confirmed what a new agreement would look like.

“There might be some kind of a broad document signed in Singapore, we don’t know yet, that would mark at least, on paper, the formal end of the Korean war, the formal end of hostilities on the Korean peninsula,” explained Jonathan Pollack, a Korea expert and senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institute.

“But the problem with that is that hostilities have not ended on the Korean peninsula. North Korea is armed to the teeth, South Korea also has very substantial capabilities of it’s own, the United States has a very significant presence, so none of those things have changed and that is not even getting into the question of the long-term status of North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities,” he added.

At the time of the 1953 armistice, South Korean leaders opposed the idea of a truce that left the peninsula divided, and were not signatories to the armistice, which was officially signed by the commander of North Korea’s army; the American commander of the U.N. Command; and the commander of the “Chinese People’s volunteers”, who were not officially claimed by Beijing at the time.

North Korea has previously maintained that it would only negotiate a peace treaty with the United States.

The North’s first leader and founder of the ruling Kim dynasty, Kim Il Sung, for example, raised the idea of a peace deal with U.S. President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s.

North and South Korea have seriously discussed the idea before. In 1992, the two sides agreed to “endeavor together to transform the present state of armistice into a solid state of peace”.

“We’ve been in situations like this before where the North and South have made momentary accommodation with one another, right now the stakes are much higher, because you now have nuclear weapons deployed in North Korea, you have long-range missiles, you have a variety of threats to the region. Unless and until those issues can be meaningfully addressed, we are not in a … we may be in a cessation of hostilities but the possibility of war would be ever present,” said Pollack.

If Trump and Kim’s summit next week produces a peace declaration formally ending the Korean War as he has suggested, it could give the U.S. president a big headline-grabbing, made-for-TV moment on the world stage.

But the public relations value of such a historic event could quickly fade if Trump fails, in return, to wring any significant concessions from Kim toward the dismantling of his nuclear arsenal, former U.S. officials and analysts say.

“They (North Korea) believe they’ve got a trump card here, and no pun intended. And on that basis, they are going to see what they can milk the United States and others for over a period of time, that looks to me like a script very, very much that was followed in the past. It ended in failure on multiple occasions, and President Trump insisted when this became an issue very early on in his presidency, ‘we are not going down that same path again,’ well he’s going down that same path again,” said Pollack. -Reuters

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Trump: China “broke the deal” in U.S.-China trade talks

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (May 8) that he would be happy to keep tariffs on Chinese imports as the two countries prepare for new talks to try to rescue a faltering trade deal amid a sharp increase in U.S. duties as he charged China with “breaking the deal.”

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25 percent from 10 percent at 12:01 a.m. ET (0401) GMT on Friday (May 10), right in the middle of two days of meetings between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Trump’s top trade officials in Washington.

Beijing announced it would retaliate if tariffs rise.

“The Chinese side deeply regrets that if the U.S. tariff measures are implemented, China will have to take necessary countermeasures,” China’s Commerce Ministry said on its website, without elaborating.

The world’s two largest economies have been embroiled in a tit-for-tat tariff war since July 2018 over the U.S. demands that the Asian powerhouse adopt policy changes that would, among other things, better protect American intellectual property and make China’s market more accessible to U.S. companies.

Expectations were recently riding high that a deal could be reached but a deep rift over the language of the proposed agreement opened up last weekend.

Reuters, citing U.S. government and private-sector sources, reported on Wednesday that China had backtracked on almost all aspects of a draft trade agreement, threatening to blow up the negotiations and prompting Trump to order the tariff increase.

Trump, who has embraced largely protectionist policies as part of his “America First” agenda, warned China on Wednesday that it was mistaken if it hoped to delay a trade deal until a Democrat controlled the White House.

The United States is demanding that Beijing make sweeping changes to its trade and regulatory practices, including protecting U.S. intellectual property from theft and forced transfers to Chinese firms, curbs on Chinese government subsidies and increased American access to China’s markets.

Trump also has sought massive hikes in Chinese purchases of U.S. farm, energy, and manufactured products to shrink a gaping U.S. trade deficit with China.

Sources familiar with the talks said China’s latest demands for changes to a 150-page document that had been drafted over several months would make it hard to avoid the U.S. tariff hike on Friday.

That increase would affect Chinese imports from computer modems and routers to vacuum cleaners, furniture, lighting, and building materials. (REUTERS)

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Vietnamese woman accused of killing Kim Jong Un half-brother returns to hometown

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, May 4th, 2019

A woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reunites with family in Vietnam. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

A Vietnamese woman who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison on suspicion of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was released from jail and returned to Vietnam on Friday (May 3) night.

Doan Thi Huong arrived back to her family home, a small town in the province of Nam Dinh, 130 km (80 miles) from Hanoi, in the early hours of Saturday (May 4).

“I want to thank Nam Dinh province and the police of my home town for supporting me and protecting me safely to come back home,” she said.

The 30-year-old was charged along with an Indonesian woman with poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017.

Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Huong last month after she pleaded guilty to an alternate charge of causing harm. (REUTERS)

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Putin, Kim hold historic summit in Vladivostok

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in the port City of Vladivostok for their first ever summit on April 25. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met on Thursday (April 25) for their first ever summit.

The two shook hands on Russky island near the Port City of Vladivostok, in Russia’s far east.

Putin told Kim he expected his visit to Russia would help the two countries understand how to reach settlement over the Korean peninsula and develop bilateral ties.

“I am sure that your visit to Russia today will help to develop bilateral relations and will help us understand how to reach settlement over the Korean peninsula, what can we do together, what Russia can do to support the positive processes that are going on right now. We welcome your efforts to develop the inter-Korean dialogue and to normalize North Korean-U.S. relationship,” Putin said.

“I, too, hope that our meeting with you, Mr. President, will be useful for strengthening and development of traditional friendly relations between DPRK and Russia which run deep. And I would like to say that situation on Korean peninsula is attracting interest of the whole world society. I hope that our talks will become an important milestone to sum up the situation, exchange opinions about it and to negotiate resolution together,” Kim said.

Kim and Putin met for their unprecedented summit, where Kim is likely to seek support from the Russian leader as nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States are hanging in limbo.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Mr. Kim met in Hanoi, Vietnam earlier this year without reaching an agreement.

According to Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin believes the six-party talks on North Korea, which are currently stalled, are the only efficient way of addressing the issue of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.

Those talks, which began in 2003, involve the two Koreas as well as China, Japan, Russia and the U.S.

“There are no other efficient international mechanisms at the moment. That’s why it’s hardly possible to abstract away from this mechanism (the six-party talks). But on the other hand, you know that settlement efforts are being made by other countries as well. All efforts deserve support if they truly pursue the goal of denuclearizing society,” Peskov said.

The summit — the first ever between Putin and Kim — provides Pyongyang with an opportunity to seek support from a new quarter, Russia, and possible relief from the sanctions hurting its economy.

For the Kremlin, the summit is a chance to show it is a global diplomatic player, despite efforts by the united states and other western states to isolate it. REUTERS

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