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Archive for North Korea

Newsline: Malaysia to reopen embassy in North Korea

Malaysia will reopen its embassy in Pyongyang, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said, suggesting an end to the diplomatic row over the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother in Kuala Lumpur last year. “Yes, we will reopen the embassy,” Mahathir said in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review published on Monday during his trip to Japan. Malaysia’s once-close ties with North Korea were severely downgraded after Kim Jong Nam was killed at a Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017 when two women smeared his face with VX nerve agent, which the United Nations lists as a weapon of mass destruction. The United States and South Korea have said the murder was orchestrated by Pyongyang. After Kim Jong Nam’s death, North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia questioned the credibility of the police probe and insisted he was an ordinary citizen who died of a heart attack. Malaysia then recalled its ambassador to North Korea, banned its citizens from traveling to the North and canceled visa-free entry for North Koreans. North Korea retaliated with a travel ban on all Malaysians in Pyongyang, trapping three diplomats and six family members. They were able to fly out only after Malaysia agreed to hand over Kim Jong Nam’s corpse and send three North Koreans wanted for questioning back to North Korea.



Newsline: Trump may discuss opening US embassy in Pyongyang

US President Donald Trump may discuss establishing official diplomatic ties with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and consider opening an American embassy in Pyongyang, a US media website reported, quoting sources. Citing two sources familiar with preparations for the Singapore summit, the Axios news website reported that this was among topics that could be discussed during their talks on Tuesday. “It’s definitely been discussed,” the unnamed source told Axios. “His view is: ‘We can discuss that: It’s on the table. Let’s see.’ Of course we would consider it. There’s almost nothing he’ll take off the table going in.” But nothing has been decided for sure or is necessarily expected to emerge from Mr Trump’s talks with Mr Kim, the Axios report said. The White House has not officially commented on the matter.


Newsline: Two South Korean media staff arrested at North Korean ambassador’s home in Singapore

Two South Korean media staff have been arrested for trespassing at the home of the North Korean ambassador to Singapore, police said on Friday, just days before a high-stakes summit between the U.S. and North Korean leaders in the city-state. Police said the men arrested were from the Korean Broadcasting System News (KBS News), while a third man from the broadcaster and a fourth who was acting as a guide and interpreter were also under investigation. “Two South Korean men, aged 42 and 45, who were representing the Korean Broadcasting System News (KBS), were arrested,” police said in a Facebook post. KBS said in an emailed statement it was ready to take any action Singapore authorities deemed necessary.


Newsline: Top US diplomat for Asia on ropes ahead of North Korea summit

The fate of the U.S.’s top diplomat for Asia remains in limbo two weeks ahead of the expected historic summit with North Korea. In one of his first major personnel moves as secretary of state, Mike Pompeo is expected to withdraw the nomination of Susan Thornton for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, three sources with knowledge of the matter told ABC News. Thornton is a career Foreign Service officer with 20 years of experience in the region who has been the acting Assistant Secretary since March 2017. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was a fierce proponent of hers, battling China hawks in the administration and on Capitol Hill to get White House approval for her nomination in December.


Newsline: North Korea’s Kim Visits Chinese Embassy, Bus-Crash Victims

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited survivors of a deadly tour-bus crash, which killed dozens of Chinese tourists, and personally offered condolences to China’s ambassador in Pyongyang, state media said. Mr. Kim arrived at the Chinese Embassy at 6:30 a.m. Monday, the day after the crash, to “express his deep sympathy” and extend his condolences to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the official Korean Central News Agency said in a Tuesday report. Later Monday, Mr. Kim visited the hospital where survivors are being treated, KCNA said. The agency published photos showing Mr. Kim holding hands with patients. The tour bus fell from a bridge Sunday evening in North Hwanghae province, leaving 32 Chinese and four North Koreans dead and two Chinese severely injured, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.


Newsline: US Could Open Embassy in Pyongyang

The administration of US President Donald Trump is working out the terms of an agreement with North Korean officials that would improve political and economic relations between the two adversaries. Details of the US proposal have made rounds in South Korean media ahead of the historic summit expected in May or June 2018. American officials have been in direct negotiations with officials of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), President Trump told reporters this week. South Korean media reports that the US is willing to open an embassy in Pyongyang in exchange for denuclearization. The report says the US embassy would come in addition to humanitarian aid and an economic boost.


Newsline: North Korean diplomat heads to Finland ahead of possible US talks

A senior North Korean diplomat left for Finland on Sunday for talks with former U.S. and South Korean officials, Yonhap News Agency reported, amid a series of diplomatic encounters ahead of a possible U.S.-North Korean summit. North Korea is pursuing its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. It defends the programs as a necessary deterrent against a possible U.S. invasion. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea but denies any invasion plans. Tensions have eased in recent weeks, coinciding with North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics held in the South last month. Choe Kang Il, a deputy director general for North American affairs at North Korea’s foreign ministry, plans to attend the “track 1.5 talks”, according to Yonhap, reflecting planned contact between former U.S. officials and current North Korean ones in a broader bid to end the standoff over North Korea’s weapons programs. South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement North Korea would participate in the meeting joined by former South Korean officials and academics but did not provide further details.