WASHINGTON, February 6 -- President Trump announced on Tuesday that he will sit down with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, at the end of this month in Vietnam, a country chosen as a neutral location for their second nuclear summit meeting, but one that also has plenty of symbolic significance.
Mr. Trump hopes the meeting will jump-start a diplomatic effort that has stalled since their first encounter, last June in Singapore. While North Korea since then has refrained from overtly provocative actions like testing nuclear warheads or ballistic missiles, it has yet to agree to actually give up any piece of its atomic arsenal.
“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” Mr. Trump said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. “Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong-un is a good one. Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.”
Mr. Trump disclosed the location in an interview last week with The New York Times, but aides asked that it not be immediately reported, citing security concerns.
BEIJING, February 4 -- The presidents of China and the United States are considering meeting in Vietnam on February 27 and 28, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
The source said President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump may meet in the coastal city of Da Nang, where they are expected to continue pushing to resolve the trade dispute between the two nations. The meeting was mentioned by Trump when a Chinese trade delegation was in Washington this week for talks. Trump said he looked forward to meeting Xi once or twice to conclude a trade deal. No details of arrangements for those meetings were revealed, and the Chinese foreign ministry said only that Xi was willing to keep in touch with Trump through various means. Washington is also preparing for a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in late February.
Trump said he would announce the date and location for the meeting with Kim early next week, possibly during his State of the Union address scheduled for Tuesday. Several locations were suggested for the summit, including Da Nang. Earlier, when asked if he would consider meeting Xi during his next visit to Asia, Trump said he was “thinking about it”. “There’s a possibility we’ll meet somewhere,” Trump told reporters on Friday. “Whether it’s there, I’m over in a certain location I’ll be over in a certain location as you know.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that during the meeting at the Oval Office on Thursday, the Chinese delegation proposed a meeting with Xi on the island of Hainan after Trump’s summit with Kim. Jin Canrong, the associate dean of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing, said Beijing would prefer to host the Xi-Trump summit on Chinese territory. “It’s a bilateral issue which has nothing to do with a third country,” Jin said, “China has made great compromises on trade issues and if Trump does travel to East Asia, it would be ideal if he could drop by in Hainan.” Jin also noted that Beijing may not want to complicate the trade talks by discussing North Korean denuclearisation, where little progress has been made since Trump and Kim’s first meeting in June. Despite sharp falls in bilateral trade last year because of the UN sanctions, China remains North Korea’s top trading partner and a close ally,
Kim’s most recent meeting with Xi earlier last month, his fourth over the past year, was seen by some observers as a sign that Kim may be seeking to use his links with Beijing as a bargaining chip in his next meeting with Trump.
SEOUL, January 12 -- Chinese President Xi Jinping is highly likely to visit North Korea in April, followed by a visit to South Korea in May, the Korean Herald reported, citing South Korea's ruling party leader.
"It seems like Chinese President Xi Jinping is slated to visit North Korea in April, and there is a high possibility that he will visit South Korea in May," Democratic Party leader Lee Hae-chan was quoted as saying on Friday (Jan 11) during a meeting with new presidential chief of staff Noh Young-min upon his courtesy call on the National Assembly.
"A summit between China and North Korea, followed by a second US-North Korea summit and inter-Korean summit will foster peace in North-east Asia," Lee said. Lee added the leaders of the countries appear likely to meet frequently in the first half of the year. He also said the path for inter-Korea economic exchanges and cooperation is now visible, which could revitalise the economy. Xi had met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Beijing this week, which was their fourth summit meeting, during the latter's four-day visit to the Chinese capital. China is considered the best buffer North Korea has against US pressure and sanctions as Kim prepares for a second meeting with Trump.
He also consulted with Xi before and after his first meeting with Trump, which took place in Singapore in June. The June meeting produced a vaguely worded agreement to "work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" and "new" relations between North Korea and the United States, which have been adversaries for seven decades. But talks have since stalled over how to implement the Singapore deal. Washington wants North Korea to start dismantling its nuclear facilities and weapons, while the North has demanded that the United States first build trust with corresponding measures, starting with the easing of sanctions. When Xi met Kim on Tuesday, the Chinese leader urged North Korea and the United States to meet each other "in the middle"
BEIJING, January 8 -- Kim Jong Un is visiting China from January 7 to 10.
At the invitation of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese president, Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is visiting China, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of Workers' Party of Korea, reported that Kim is accompanied by Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and a senior party official charged with negotiations with the United States, Kim Yong Chol. South Korea hailed the visit, expressing hope that it would have a positive effect on denuclearization and peace process on the Korean Peninsula, the country’s Yonhap news agency reported. "The government expects that high-level exchanges between the North and China, including a meeting between Chairman Kim Jong-un and President Xi Jinping, will be able to contribute to the complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula," a foreign ministry official told the agency, adding it's the government's formal response. The diplomat added that his country would continue its efforts to foster the denuclearization process and will assist diplomatic activities involving Seoul and Pyongyang, with the participation of other regional powers.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that the leaders of China and North Korea were expected to meet in person during the visit.
Chinese Foreign Ministry’s official spokesman Lu Kang said on January 3 that the top-level Chinese-North Korean meeting in 2019 may have a positive effect on peace and stability worldwide, and China expects it to be a success. A historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, 2018, yielded a joint document where North Korea undertook a commitment to work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the United States. Besides, the US president vowed to stop holding joint military drills with South Korea near the North Korean border.
ROME, January 3 -- North Korea’s top diplomat in Italy has reportedly sought asylum in what would be another high-profile defection bid by one of Pyongyang’s envoys.
Jo Song-gil, the acting North Korean ambassador to Rome, applied for asylum to an unidentified Western country with his family, South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo daily said on Thursday, citing unnamed diplomatic sources in Seoul. "He sought asylum early last month," the JoongAng quoted one source as saying. Italian authorities were "agonising" over what to do, the official was quoted as saying, but added they were "protecting him in a safe place". If confirmed, this would be the first defection by a North Korean diplomat since 2016, when deputy ambassador to London Thae Yong-ho fled to the South with his wife and two sons.
According to Joongang Ilbo, Jo has been serving as acting ambassador after Italy expelled then ambassador Mun Jong-nam following the North’s sixth nuclear test in September 2017. The Jo family had been living in Rome since 2015 with no direct relatives still living in Pyongyang – a rare privilege granted only to North Korean power elites because it leaves nobody behind to prevent them from defecting, the daily said.
Jo is “known to be a son or son-in-law of one of the highest-level officials in the North’s regime”, the Joongang cited an unnamed North Korea expert as saying. The Kim dynasty has ruled the impoverished but nuclear-armed state for three generations with little tolerance for dissent, and the regime stands accused of widespread human rights abuses. North Korean diplomats are usually called back home when they have spent about three years overseas. Many are aggrieved when they are told to return home from developed countries where they can raise their children in a presumably favorable environment, North Korean defectors have said.
SEOUL, January 2 -- Refuting Tokyo's claims in the ongoing military radar dispute, Seoul is calling for an apology for what it calls a Japanese aircraft’s threatening flight against a South Korean warship.
In a text message sent to reporters on Wednesday, South Korea’s Defense Ministry expressed deep regret that Japan is repeating unilateral claims after releasing related video footage despite an agreement with Seoul to hold working-level discussions to establish facts. Reiterating its stance that the South Korean destroyer was conducting a normal rescue operation to help a drifting North Korean ship and did not lock its radar on a Japanese patrol aircraft, the ministry said the footage instead shows the aircraft making a low-altitude flight.
It called on Japan to stop distorting facts and apologize for the aircraft's threatening flight while repeating that the two countries should continue working-level talks on the issue.
Video footage @ Japan shows clip of alleged South Korea radar lock-on
The North Korean leader acknowledges the two Koreas have escaped the danger of war and have “established ties of harmony and trust that are irreversible.". Kim regrets not being able to visit Seoul, whilst for the South Korean president, “There will be a lot of difficulties going forward. But our hearts will be opened to each other.”
SEOUL, December 31 -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in asking for more peace talks in the new year.
Moon yesterday welcomed North Korea's renewed commitment to the denuclearisation of the peninsula, which could give new impetus to the stalled negotiations with the United States over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. According to Moon, Kim has acknowledged that the two Koreas have escaped from the danger of war and “established ties of harmony and trust that are irreversible”.
The North Korean leader, Moon added, “has expressed his willingness to actively carry out agreements reached at the inter-Korean summits and the US-North Korea summit”. “Chairman Kim said he wants to meet [with me] frequently in the new year again in order to discuss practical issues related with peace and prosperity and the issue of denuclearisation. I heartily welcome this.”
Whilst the Office of the President did not fully disclose Kim’s letter, Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said that Kim expressed regret that he could not make a planned visit to Seoul, South Korea’s capital, by the end of December as the two leaders had agreed at their last summit in September in Pyongyang. In September, the Koreas agreed to a number of goodwill gestures to reduce their conventional military threat, such as removing mines and firearms from the border village of Panmunjom, destroying some front-line guard posts and creating buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the border. “Kim said the leaders by meeting three times in a single year and implementing bold measures to overcome the long period of conflict lifted our nation from military tension and war fears,” Moon’s spokesman noted. In addition, he leader expressed his willingness to “keep a close eye on the situation and expressed strong will to visit Seoul.” Still, “There will be a lot of difficulties going forward. But our hearts will be opened to each other depending on how much effort we make,” Moon said.
TOKYO, December 29 -- Japan released video footage on Friday to prove that a South Korean warship allegedly locked its fire-control radar onto a Japanese warplane off the country's northern coast, the latest move in an escalating row between the two Asian neighbours.
The Defense Ministry's just over 13-minute footage, filmed from the P-1 patrol aircraft and published on its website, contained Japanese crewmembers asking the destroyer for clarification but getting no response.
Japan alleged that last Friday a South Korean destroyer repeatedly locked its targeting radar on the Japanese aircraft inside of Japan's exclusive economic waters off the Noto Peninsula. A lock with a fire-control radar is considered a hostile act and only one step away from actual firing. Relations between Japan and South Korea have degraded to their worst in recent years over compensation issues related to Japanese atrocities such as sexual abuse of "comfort women'' and Korean forced labour during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 through 1945. The radar flap has added to the strain.
"Korea South Naval Ship, Hull Number 971, this is Japan Navy. We observed that your FC antenna is directed to us. What is the purpose of your act, over?'' a crewmember asked the destroyer in English several times using three different frequencies but the destroyer remained silent. The voice grew slightly tense as the crew kept calling. The video starts showing the gray destroyer sailing near a North Korean vessel. About six minutes later, one of the crewmembers can be heard saying: "FC detected'' and that it was coming from the destroyer. Seoul has denied the allegation, saying its warship used an optical camera while rescuing a North Korean fishing boat in distress.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters earlier Friday that he decided to release the footage and data to let the people in and outside Japan know that the Japanese Self-Defense Force operated appropriately. "It is most important that an incident like this should never be repeated between Japan and South Korea,'' Iwaya said, adding that relations between the two sides are crucial for regional national security. "Even though difficult issues remain between Japan and South Korea,'' he said, "I hope to overcome those problems and push forward our mutual understanding and exchange between our two militaries.''