Tags: north korea | talks | forecast

North Korea to Pursue Talks? Seoul New Year Forecast Thinks So

North Korea to Pursue Talks? Seoul New Year Forecast Thinks So
The flag of North Korea. (Steve Allen/Dreamstime)

Tuesday, 26 December 2017 07:04 AM

Russia said it is ready to act as a mediator between North Korea and the United States if both parties are willing for it to play such a role, and South Korea predicted on Tuesday that Pyongyang would look to open negotiations with the United States in 2018.

"North Korea will seek negotiation with United States, while continuing to pursue its effort to be recognised as a de facto nuclear-possessing country," South Korea's Unification Ministry said in a report on Tuesday, without offering any reasons for its conclusion, according to Reuters.

Moscow has long called for the two sides to hold negotiations aimed at reducing tensions over the nuclear and missile program North Korea is pursuing in defiance of years of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

"Russia's readiness to clear the way for de-escalation is obvious," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a phone call with reporters.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Monday for Washington and Pyongyang to start negotiations, saying Russia was ready to facilitate such talks.

Though U.S. diplomats have said they are pursuing a diplomatic solution, President Donald Trump has said Pyongyang must commit to giving up its nuclear weapons before any talks can begin.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to impose new sanctions on North Korea on Friday in response to its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, a move North Korea called an act of war, tantamount to a complete economic blockade.

In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, North Korea said the United States was terrified by its nuclear force and was getting "more and more frenzied in the moves to impose the harshest-ever sanctions and pressure on our country."

China, the North's lone major ally, and Russia both supported the latest U.N. sanctions, which seek to limit the North's access to refined petroleum products and crude oil and its earnings from workers abroad, while on Monday Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called for all countries to ease tension.

On Tuesday, Beijing released customs data indicating China exported no oil products to North Korea in November, apparently going over and beyond U.N. sanctions.

China, the main source of North Korea's fuel, did not export any gasoline, jet fuel, diesel or fuel oil to its neighbour last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

China also imported no iron ore, coal or lead from North Korea in November.

In its 2018 forecast, South Korea's Unification Ministry said it believed the North would eventually find ways to blunt the effects of the sanctions.

"Countermeasures will be orchestrated to deal with the effects, including cuts in trade volume and foreign currency inflow, lack of supplies, and reduced production in each part of the economy," the report said.

The latest round of sanctions was prompted by the Nov. 29 test of what North Korea said was an intercontinental ballistic missile that put the U.S. mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.

The Joongang Ilbo Daily newspaper, citing an unnamed South Korean government official, reported on Tuesday that North Korea could also be preparing to launch a satellite into space.

Experts have said such launches are likely aimed at further developing the North's ballistic missile technology, and as such would be prohibited under U.N. resolutions.

The North Korean Rodong Sinmun newspaper said on Monday saying that "peaceful space development is a legitimate right of a sovereign state".

North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea, the United States and Japan, and says its weapons are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in the South, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, and regularly carries out military exercises with the South, which the North sees as preparations for invasion. 

© 2018 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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Russia said it is ready to act as a mediator between North Korea and the United States if both parties are willing for it to play such a role, and South Korea predicted on Tuesday that Pyongyang would look to open negotiations with the United States in 2018.
north korea, talks, forecast
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2017-04-26
Tuesday, 26 December 2017 07:04 AM
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