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N. Korean ruling party agrees to strengthen military, national security: KCNA, By Dagyum Ji
N. Korean ruling party agrees to strengthen military, national security: KCNA
North Korea’s ruling party this week agreed on a series of measures to further strengthen the country’s military and improve national security, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Friday. DPRK leader Kim Jong Un presided over the first Enlarged Meeting of the 7th Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
The View from Jingshan: Chinese observers react to flurry of Sino-DPRK diplomacy, By John Petrushka
As Pyongyang’s relations with the outside world improve, Beijing leverages its traditional ties
As North Korea continued its diplomatic opening to the international community with the North-South summit, the announcement of denuclearization measures, and Kim Jong Un’s unexpected visit to Dalian to meet with Xi Jinping, Chinese media remained optimistic and congratulatory of the Chinese and North Korean leaders. Below the surface, however, developments suggested that China remains cautious with the outside world improve.
No plans to scale back joint military drills: Pentagon, By Leo Byrne
Pentagon spokesperson says no conversation about changing the scope of the drills
The Pentagon on Thursday said there were no plans to scale back military drills with South Korea, despite North Korea threatening to cancel a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Speaking at a regular press briefing, Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White said there had been no conversations about changing the joint drills, which are defensive in nature.
“The scope of our exercises has not changed … These are alliance decisions, this is something that we do to ensure the readiness of both our forces as well as the South Korean forces,” White told reporters.
“There has been no talk of reducing anything, there has been no talk of changing our scope. These are annual exercises and we are very transparent about them.”
In a dramatic turnaround, the North Korean government returned to its more typical rhetoric on Tuesday, suspending talks with Seoul and threatening to scrap a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set for June 12 in Singapore.
The North Koreans were reacting to annual Max Thunder air combat drills, which involve fighter aircraft from both the U.S. and South Korean armed forces. The drills began on May 11 and involve more than 100 warplanes.
Since the announcement, North Korea appears to have doubled down on the diplomatic pullback, with a senior DPRK official adding on Thursday that there will be no further meetings with South Korea until “issues” are resolved.
Pyongyang also appeared to walk back on any commitment to denuclearization, saying it did not need U.S. economic help or aid in exchange for its nuclear weapons.
“The U.S. is clamoring that they will offer economic rewards and benefits if we abandon nuclear arsenals,” the DPRK’s first Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan said on Wednesday.
“But we’ve never built our economy while having expectations on the U.S, and we will never make such deal.”
Despite Pyongyang’s sudden cold feet, Washington said it is preparing for the summit as before during a White House press conference also held on Thursday.
“The president is prepared and will be ready to meet, and we’re continuing to move forward with the preparations,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“If the North Koreans want to meet, we’ll be there, and at this point, there is not a lot of change beyond that. Certainly not in our process.”
N. Korea to get protections if deal reached, could be “decimated” if not: Trump, By Hamish Macdonald
President suggests military intervention “most likely” if agreement not reached
Kim Jong Un will receive very strong protections in a denuclearization deal with the U.S., President Donald Trump said on Thursday, but added that if no deal is reached then North Korea will most likely face the “Libya model” in which the country was “decimated.”
No further inter-Korean meetings until “issues” resolved: DPRK official, By Hamish Macdonald
Ri Son Gwon accuses ROK of “ignorant and incompetent” behavior, rules out imminent return to talks
No inter-Korean meetings will take place until Seoul rectifies ongoing North Korean grievances with its South Korean counterparts, a senior DPRK official warned on Thursday.
The announcement follows the North’s abrupt cancellation on Wednesday of a scheduled inter-Korean meeting.
In a statement, Pyongyang cited the staging of the Max Thunder joint drills, as well as a recent press conference by former DPRK diplomat Thae Yong-ho, among the reasons for its having withdrawn from talks.
In comments carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday, Chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country Ri Son Gwon criticized the ROK on Thursday for its response to the cancellation.
Citing the above concerns, Ri said “the DPRK took a resolute step of postponing the north-south high-level talks indefinitely until the south Korean authorities take a responsible measure, and notified it to them and made this public through a KCNA report.”
“But, far from thinking over the meaning of the step taken by the DPRK and taking necessary follow-up measures, they went so senseless as to express ‘regret’ and ‘urge’ something,” he added.
The comments likely refer to a statement on Wednesday by Seoul’s Ministry of Unification, which expressed regret at what it called the unilateral cancelation of the meeting and urged Pyongyang to resume meetings “immediately.”
“It is regrettable that North Korea unilaterally postponed the South-North high-level meeting citing the annual joint ROK-U.S. air exercises as it does not correspond to the fundamental spirit and the purpose of the Panmunjom Declaration…,” MOU spokesperson Baik Tae-hyun said in a statement.
Ri – who has led several high-level DPRK meetings with South Korean counterparts this year and was set to lead the talks on Wednesday – also on Thursday described the Moon Jae-in administration as “ignorant and incompetent” and accused Seoul of being “devoid of the elementary sense of the present situation.”
“Unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the north-south high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of south Korea,” it read.
The tone is in stark contrast to North Korea’s prior communications towards the South since the beginning of year, which culminated in the first inter-Korean summit in over ten years and the signing of the Panmunjom Declaration.
However, this week has seen the DPRK lash out at both Seoul and Washington, even threatening to cancel a scheduled summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump set for June 12.
Trump’s North Korea road trip: no backseat drivers please, By Frank Jannuzi and Keith Luse
The President must make it clear that now is not the time for mixed messaging
After first prematurely celebrating a historic “breakthrough” on the Korean peninsula, many American analysts and journalists have now made the snap calculation that Chairman Kim Jong Un plans to walk away from the June 12 summit with President Trump, replaying North Korea’s well-established pattern of raising tensions, probing engagement, and dashing hopes.
Perhaps. But as veteran radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, what about “the rest of the story”?
A massive trust deficit is the operational baseline for U.S.-DPRK relations. The DPRK fears the U.S. intends to overthrow its government, and blames U.S. “hostile policies” for its decision to develop nuclear weapons. For their part, the President, members of Congress, and the American people are frankly exasperated by North Korea’s cycle of provocative behavior, with harsh rhetoric, missile launches, and nuclear tests often followed by seasons of diplomatic outreach.
President Trump’s approach of “maximum pressure and engagement” sought to break this cycle – imposing tough, unilateral economic sanctions, complimented by multinational sanctions imposed by the United Nations while using U.S. diplomatic leverage to isolate the DPRK internationally.
His pressure tactics coincided with two significant changes on the peninsula: the election of a progressive South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is leading North-South rapprochement, and the emergence of a more confident, politically secure Kim Jong Un, now commanding a limited nuclear deterrent and willing to explore alternative futures for himself and his country.