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China, Russia, North Korea call for adjusted sanctions ahead of denuclearization

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This story is being published by POLITICO as part of a content partnership with the South China Morning Post. It originally appeared on scmp.com on Oct. 10, 2018.

Chinese, Russian and North Korean deputy foreign ministers have met in Moscow to coordinate a trilateral approach to the denuclearization process on the Korean peninsula, and called on the U.N. Security Council to “adjust” the current sanctions regime against Pyongyang.

This is in contrast to the Trump administration’s declaration that tough sanctions would remain on North Korea until its complete denuclearization.

“It is time to start considering the adjustment of the U.N. Security Council’s sanction regime against the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]. The three parties also oppose unilateral sanctions,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement released on Wednesday, a day after the working-level talks in Moscow.

China’s foreign affairs vice-minister, Kong Xuanyou, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Igor Morgulov and North Korea’s foreign vice-minister, Choe Son-hui, discussed the three countries’ cooperation during the denuclearization process.

China and Russia supported Pyongyang’s favored “phased and synchronized measures,” to ensure it receives compensation from the international community during the process, rather than waiting for complete denuclearization.

All parties concerned should maintain the momentum of dialogue and take corresponding measures to move in the same direction, the statement said. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that his next summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would not occur until after next month’s U.S. midterm elections.

Woo Jung-yeop, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said a friendly North Korea would enhance Chinese interests in the long-term.

“China is showing off its improving bilateral relations with the North … as China may now view North Korea as a strategic interest, not a strategic burden,” he said.

“The North Korean issue has become an important factor of the U.S.-China conflict.

“China is trying to influence the situation on the Korean peninsula, so that the US will need China’s help to solve the North Korean nuclear problem.”

“The three parties agreed that all issues on the Korean peninsula should be resolved through peaceful political diplomacy … The three parties also discussed the need to establish a peace mechanism on the peninsula through bilateral and multilateral cooperation,” the statement said.

Trump last month said that he and Kim Jong-un “fell in love” in recent months and called his relations with Kim a “great relationship”. He also said his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping may be over amid the worsening China-U.S. relations.

North Korean state media said Pyongyang officials had positive talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/10/china-russia-north-korea-sanctions-891640

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North and South Korean leaders sign joint agreement on denuclearisation in ‘leap forward’ for peace

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The North and South Korean leaders presented a joint agreement during their summit in Pyongyang on Wednesday that Kim Jong-un said represented a “leap forward” for peace on the peninsula.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/north-korea-south-summit-nuclear-kim-jong-un-moon-jae-in-pyongyang-agreement-seoul-a8544151.html

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White House planning second Trump-Kim summit

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The White House is planning a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday.

Kim requested the meeting in a letter delivered to Trump via the State Department, Sanders said, describing the correspondence as “very warm, very positive.”

“We won’t release the full letter unless the North Korean leader agrees that we should,” Sanders said at a White House press briefing. “The primary purpose of the letter was to request and look to schedule another meeting with the president, which we are open to and are already in the process of coordinating that.”

Trump and Kim came face-to-face once before, at their highly anticipated June summit in Singapore. But the relationship between the Trump administration and Kim’s regime has since degenerated as Kim has shown reluctance to surrender his nuclear capabilities.

Still, Sanders said recent developments in North Korea and diplomatic concessions from the authoritarian state have smoothed the way for a new sit-down between Trump and Kim.

She cited the release of three American hostages in May, the repatriation last month of the remains of American service members killed during the Korean War, and an elaborate parade Sunday in Pyongyang celebrating North Korea’s 70th anniversary as evidence of an improving relationship between the two countries.

“A number of things that have taken place,” Sanders said. “The remains have come back. The hostages have returned. There’s been no testing of missiles or nuclear material. And of course, the historic summit between the two leaders. And this letter is just further indication of the progress that we hope to continue to make.”

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/10/trump-kim-summit-white-house-813662

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North and South Korean leaders will meet in Pyongyang next month

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North and South Korean leaders will meet next month for a third time amid growing fears that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has continued to pursue nuclear weapons even as denuclearization talks continue.

Plans for leaders from the two nations to meet next month in Pyongyang, North Korea, were reached Monday after officials met in Panmunjom truce village, which sits inside the Demilitarized Zone, according to Reuters.

Kim and South Korean president Moon Jae-in held a historic meeting last April, smiling shaking hands across their border in a dramatic warming of relations between the two nations, which technically remain at war. The two leaders planned to meet again in the fall.

Kim and Moon met up again in an informal meeting in May, prior to U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim in Singapore.

Moon played a crucial role in facilitating the summit between Trump and Kim, the first known meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. That summit ended with an agreement between Trump and Kim that North Korea would denuclearize, although that agreement contained little in the way of specifics.

Since then, multiple media reports have shown North Korea apparently continuing work on nuclear weapons even as it continued to engage in talks with the U.S.

The Washington Post reported in late July that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a facility where the country produced it’s first intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. Intelligence officials obtained new evidence that showed North Korea is building one or two liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles, the report also said.

And in early July, The Wall Street Journal reported that North Korea was expanding a facility to build solid-fuel ballistic missiles. The Journal cited satellite imagery showing the bulk of new construction on the facility in Hamhung, North Korea, took place between April and June.

Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/13/korean-leaders-meeting-september-pyongyang-774866

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Rocket Man: Trump autographs Elton John CD for Kim Jong-un

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Mike Pompeo took disc to Pyongyang but did not get a chance to give it to North Korean leader

Donald Trump has confirmed he has prepared and autographed a CD of Elton John’s Honky Chateau album, featuring the song Rocket Man, to be given as a gift to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Trump derided Kim as “little rocket man” during their 2017 war of words in which Trump also threatened North Korea with “fire and fury”.

Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/11/rocket-man-trump-autographs-elton-john-cd-for-kim-jong-un

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South Korea’s President Played Matchmaker for Trump and Kim, But Will It End War—or Start More?