Thursday, November 1, 2018

Can you imagine the adulation had Obama accomplished this: Moon Jae-in says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit Seoul ‘soon’

Moon Jae-in says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit Seoul ‘soon’

President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will “soon” visit Seoul as part of a flurry of high-profile diplomacy aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.
During a speech before the National Assembly, Moon said that a second North Korea-U.S. summit is “near at hand” and that Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit North Korea soon. Moon also said he expects Kim to visit Russia soon and that Kim may meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Moon has previously said that Kim told him he would visit Seoul within this year when the leaders met in Pyongyang in September. South Korea’s presidential office said later Thursday that it had nothing to add to Moon’s speech about Kim’s trip. His comments were in line with previous statements, the Blue House said. They suggest that Moon is determined to push ahead with diplomacy to resolve the nuclear issue.
“Now, based on firm trust among one another, South and North Korea and the United States will achieve complete denuclearization and lasting peace of the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said. “This is an opportunity that has come like a miracle. It’s something that we should never miss.”
The prospects for a second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump improved after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his fourth visit to North Korea in October. But no breakthrough has followed. U.S. officials have recently said a second Trump-Kim summit will likely happen early next year. Some experts have raised doubts over whether Kim’s Seoul trip would be realized by December.
Moon, a liberal who took office last year, favors a negotiated resolution to the decades-long international standoff over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. He has facilitated a series of high-level U.S.-North Korea exchanges, including their first-ever summit in Singapore in June.
But Moon has faced growing outside skepticism over whether his engagement policy will eventually end the nuclear standoff amid ups and downs in his diplomatic push. Many conservatives in South Korea and the United States say North Korea has no intention of fully giving up its nuclear program and only intends to buy time to perfect its weapons program.
Since entering nuclear talks earlier this year, North Korea has halted nuclear and missile tests and dismantled its nuclear testing site. The United States suspended some of its annual military drills with South Korea, but is reluctant to provide the North with big political or economic benefits unless it takes more serious disarmament steps.
The two Koreas remain split along the world’s most heavily fortified border since the three-year Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice. If Kim, a third-generation hereditary leader, visits Seoul, he would be the first North Korean leader to cross the border into the South since the war ended. Last year saw increased fears of a second war on the peninsula as he exchanged threats of destruction and crude insults with Trump over North Korea’s push to develop a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
As the neighbors push to further defuse tensions, a no-fly zone and a ban on military drills near the border came into effect Thursday.
The measures were part of a military accord inked during the summit in Pyongyang, which includes a halt in “all hostile acts,” and a gradual removal of land mines and guard posts within the demilitarized zone.
The United States has raised concerns that the deal could undercut defense readiness amid tardy progress on North Korea’s denuclearization, though it displayed support at an annual security consultative meeting of defense ministers Wednesday in Washington.
“The South and the North completely removed dangers of military clash through the military agreement,” Moon told parliament Thursday. “The two Koreas and the United States will achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and lasting peace based on firm trust.”
North Korea has also taken steps toward the pact, such as covering artillery deployed along the skirmish-prone western shore, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said.
The no-fly zone extends 40 km (25 miles) north and south from the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) in the east and 20 km (12 miles) in the west for fixed-wing aircraft.
The agreement also bars live-fire drills involving fixed-wing aircraft and air-to-ground guided weapons in the no-fly area. South Korea and the United States had held such drills regularly until halting joint exercises in June.
There are different restrictions on helicopters, drones and balloons, with exemptions for commercial and nonmilitary operations such as medical, disaster and agricultural uses.
“We will thoroughly verify the North side’s implementation of the agreement, including its movement on military exercises around the MDL and whether it complies with the no-fly zone,” the Defense Ministry in Seoul said in a statement.
The no-fly zone was a key sticking point for Washington because it would effectively bar close air support drills, in which airplanes provide firepower for troops who may be operating near enemy forces.
The allies agreed to halt the Vigilant Ace air defense drills set for December in a move to spur nuclear talks with Pyongyang, while South Korea said it kicked off two military exercises on Monday outside the banned area.
South Korea’s spy agency said North Korea is preparing for international inspections at some of its nuclear and missile test sites, the Yonhap news agency said Wednesday.
Pompeo said he plans to meet his North Korean counterpart next week.

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