Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

S.outh Korea’s Moon heads to US as North threat grows

June 26, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP / by Hwang Sunghee | South Korean President Moon Jae-In advocates a two-phased approach to the North’s nuclear issue, with Pyongyang first freezing its nuclear and long-range missile tests in return for the scaling back of annual US-South Korea military exercises
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SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea’s dovish new President Moon Jae-In — who backs engagement with the nuclear-armed North — heads to Washington this week for talks with his hawkish US counterpart Donald Trump, as Pyongyang defies international sanctions to accelerate its missile programme.

Centre-left Moon suggested on the campaign trail that as president he would be willing to go to Pyongyang before Washington, but he is making the US his first foreign destination since he was sworn in last month after a landslide election win.

Washington is the South’s security guarantor and has more than 28,000 troops in the country to defend it from its neighbour, which has been intensifying missile tests — including five since Moon’s inauguration — as it seeks to develop nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that could reach the continental United States.

US Pentagon chief Jim Mattis has labelled North Korea as “the most urgent and dangerous threat” while Trump has made halting Pyongyang’s weapons programme a top foreign policy priority.

There have been misgivings about the first tete-a-tete between Moon and Trump, who is pushing for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang to curb its nuclear ambitions and whose administration has said military action was a possibility.

That would put Seoul on the front line of any retaliation from the North.

But analysts say their first encounter is likely to be low on drama with the two getting a sense of each other, rather than displaying jarring differences.

Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure and engagement” has a wide range from diplomacy to sanctions, allowing for an “overlap” with that of Moon, who has never denied the need for sanctions even while seeking dialogue, said John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University.

“So there doesn’t have to be a train wreck over North Korea policy,” he told AFP.

Also high on the agenda is likely to be a controversial US missile defence system that has been installed in South Korea to guard against missile threats from the North.

Though parts of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system are already in place, Moon suspended further deployment following a furious campaign of economic sanctions and diplomatic protests by Beijing against the US missile shield, dealing a blow to Washington’s regional security policy.

Officially, the delay is to allow for a new, comprehensive environmental impact assessment, but analysts say the move is a strategic one by Moon to delay the tricky diplomatic situation he inherited.

– ‘Ruffled feathers’ –

Earlier this year Moon raised many eyebrows when he said in a new book that Seoul should learn to say “no” to Washington.

But analysts say the South Korean leader — whose parents were refugees evacuated from the North by US forces — will endeavour in Washington to portray their decades-old alliance as intact.

“Moon will seek to smooth ruffled feathers in Washington and give an impression that there is no daylight between the two allies,” Sejong Institute analyst Hong Hyun-Ik told AFP.

Hong said that Moon “initially appeared to walk a tightrope between China and the United States” but was forced back to “the US orbit” under enormous pressure from his conservative political opponents.

The South Korean president advocates a two-phased approach to the North’s nuclear issue, with Pyongyang first freezing its nuclear and long-range missile tests in return for the scaling back of annual US-South Korea military exercises.

In the second stage, the North’s nuclear programmes would be completely dismantled in return for diplomatic ties and economic assistance.

The idea is similar to China’s standing proposal of “dual suspension” of US-South Korea war games and the North’s nuclear and missile tests, which Washington has already rejected.

For Moon, analysts say pursuing such an approach has been made more complicated by last week’s death of American student Otto Warmbier, who had been jailed by the North.

Warmbier fell into a mysterious coma after being in prison for 18 months for stealing a political poster. He died days after being evacuated home, sparking outrage in the US.

by Hwang Sunghee

China, U.S. Agree Aim of ‘Complete, Irreversible’ Korean Denuclearisation

June 24, 2017

BEIJING — China and the United States agreed that efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula should be “complete, verifiable and irreversible”, Chinese state media said on Saturday, reporting the results of high level talks in Washington this week.

“Both sides reaffirm that they will strive for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” a consensus document released by the official Xinhua news agency said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said on Thursday that the United States pressed China to ramp up economic and political pressure on North Korea, during his meeting with top Chinese diplomats and defence chiefs.

China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui met Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during the talks. Yang later met with U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House, where they also discussed North Korea, Xinhua reported.

Image result for Yang Jiechi, photos, june 2017

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.

The consensus document also highlighted the need to fully and strictly hold to U.N. Security Council resolutions and push for dialogue and negotiation, which has long been China’s position on the issue.

Military-to-military exchanges should also be upgraded and mechanisms of notification established in order to cut the risks of “judgement errors” between the Chinese and U.S. militaries, the statement also said.

Chinese state media described the talks, the first of their kind with the Trump administration, as an upgrade in dialogue mechanisms between China and the United States, following on from President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Trump in Florida in April.

Xi and Trump are next expected to meet again in Hamburg during the G20 Summit next month.

A day last week’s talks, President Donald Trump said China’s efforts to use its leverage with North Korea had failed, raising fresh doubts about his administration’s strategy for countering the threat from North Korea.

The death of American university student Otto Warmbier earlier this week, after his release from 17 months of imprisonment in Pyongyang, further complicated Trump’s approach to North Korea.

China, North Korea’s main trading partner, has been accused of not fully enforcing existing U.N. sanctions on its neighbour, and has resisted some tougher measures.

Washington has considered further “secondary sanctions” against Chinese banks and other firms doing business with North Korea, which China opposes.

(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Simo cameron-Moore)

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Torture: North Korea denies it cruelly treated or tortured American student Otto Warmbier

June 23, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has denied it cruelly treated or tortured an American student who was detained for more than year and died days after being released in a coma.

The article published by the official Korean Central News Agency on Friday was Pyongyang’s first reaction to the death of Otto Warmbier. North Korea released him last week for what it described as humanitarian reasons and he died Monday in a U.S. hospital. His family and others have blamed North Korea for his condition.

KCNA says the North dealt with Warmbier according to domestic law and international standards. He had been accused of stealing a propaganda poster and was serving a sentence of hard labor.

The article also criticized South Korea for using Warmbier’s case to seek the release of other detainees.

South Korea President President Moon Jae-in has observed a test-firing of a new midrange missile amid tension with North

June 23, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean President Moon Jae-in has observed a test-firing of a new midrange missile the country is developing to cope with growing threats from North Korea.

Moon’s office quoted him as saying Friday that the launch was important for the South to maintain military capability that could “dominate” the North in order to maintain peace on the peninsula and for future engagement policies with the North to be effective.

South Korea’s military plans to deploy the Hyunmoo-2 missile after conducting two more test firings.

North Korea has tested several new missile systems this year in an accelerated effort to strengthen its nuclear weapons and missiles program. The tests present a difficult challenge to Moon as he has expressed a desire to reach out to Pyongyang.

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This video capture shows the Hyunmoo 2 ballistic missile being test-fired in South Korea. (Yonhap)

This video capture shows the Hyunmoo 2 ballistic missile being test-fired in South Korea. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, June 23 (Yonhap) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in watched the test-firing of a home-grown missile with a range of 800 kilometers Friday, also sending a strong warning to North Korea and its evolving missile provocations.

“The president’s inspection of the test firing was aimed at sending a clear warning against North Korea’s repeated provocations,” Park Soo-hyun, a spokesman for the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, told reporters.

The new missile, Hyunmoo-2, is said to have a range of up to 800 kilometers, enough to reach any part of North Korea.

“It will be a key component in our kill chain to counter possible North Korean missile attacks,” the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said, adding the new missile was set to be deployed after two more test fires. Friday’s test fire marked the fourth of its kind. It took place at a test site of its state developer, the Agency for Defense Development, in Anheung, located some 200 kilometers southwest of Seoul.

President Moon said his trip to the ADD site was also aimed at confirming the country’s own defense capabilities for the South Korean people, as well as himself.

“I too have been curious, but now I have personally confirmed that the people may be at ease,” Moon said, according to his spokesman.

North Korea has test-fired five ballistic missiles, including a new intermediate-range missile, since the South Korean president came into office last month.

Moon has stressed a need to impose additional, stronger sanctions on the communist state if the North tests an intercontinental ballistic missile or conducts its sixth nuclear test.

The Hyunmoo is an indigenously developed missile. South Korea began producing the Hyunmoo-3C with a range of up to 1,500 kilometers in 2010.

bdk@yna.co.kr

South Korea President Calls on China’s Xi to Do More on North Korea Nuclear Programme

June 22, 2017

SEOUL — South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday China should do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear programme and he would call on President Xi Jinping to ‘lift all measures’ against South Korean companies taken in retaliation against Seoul’s decision to host a U.S. anti-missile defence system.

In an interview with Reuters ahead of his trip to Washington next week for a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Moon said ‘strong’ sanctions should be imposed if North Korea tests an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or conducts a sixth nuclear test.

North Korea will acquire the technology to deploy a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of hitting the mainland United States “in the not too distant future,” Moon said.

“I believe China is making efforts to stop North Korea from making additional provocations, yet there are no tangible results as of yet,” Moon told Reuters at the sprawling Blue House presidential compound.

“China is North Korea’s only ally and China is the country that provides most economic assistance to North Korea,” Moon said. “Without the assistance of China, sanctions won’t be effective at all.”

Moon was elected in May pledging to take a more moderate approach to the North and engage the reclusive country in dialogue, in addition to pressure and sanctions to impede its defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim in Seoul; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

North Korea calls Trump a ‘psychopath’ — Or is he “crazy like a fox”?

June 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP | “South Korea must realise that following psychopath Trump…will only lead to disaster,” an editorial carried by Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea on Thursday called US President Donald Trump a “psychopath” as tensions soar following the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was evacuated in a coma from North Korean detention last week.

Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the US president was in a “tough situation” at home and claimed he was toying with the idea of a preemptive strike on North Korea to divert attention from a domestic political crisis.

“South Korea must realise that following psychopath Trump…will only lead to disaster,” an editorial carried by the paper said.

A series of atomic tests and missile launches since last year have ratcheted up tensions on the Korean peninsula, and Warmbier’s death has further strained relations between Pyongyang and Washington.

Trump slammed the “brutal regime” in Pyongyang, and said he was determined to “prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.”

His language was echoed by South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who said in an interview ahead of a White House visit next week that North Korea bears responsibility for the student’s death.

“I believe we must now have the perception that North Korea is an irrational regime,” Moon told CBS television’s “This Morning.”

Moon, a centre-left politician who was sworn in last month after a landslide election win, favours engagement with the North, rather than the hardline stance taken by his ousted conservative predecessor Park Geun-Hye.

Washington has also stepped up its muscle-flexing in the region, flying two B-1 bombers over the Korean peninsula Tuesday in a planned training mission with Japan and South Korea as its latest show of force.

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U.S., China meet on North Korea after Trump points to failed Chinese effort

June 21, 2017

Reuters

By David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON

Top diplomats and defense chiefs from the United States and China began a day of talks in Washington on Wednesday looking for ways to press North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs.

The talks come a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said Chinese efforts to persuade North Korea to rein in its weapons programs had failed, ratcheting up the rhetoric after the death of an American student who had been detained by Pyongyang.

Trump’s statement is likely to increase pressure on Beijing at the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, which pairs U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis with China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and General Fang Fenghui, chief of joint staff of the People’s Liberation Army.

The State Department says Wednesday’s talks would focus on ways to increase pressure on North Korea, but also cover such areas as counter-terrorism and territorial rivalries in the South China Sea.

The U.S. side is expected to press China to cooperate on a further toughening of international sanctions on North Korea. The United States and its allies would like to see an oil embargo and bans on the North Korean airline and guest workers among other moves, steps diplomats say have been resisted by China and Russia.

Trump has had high hopes for greater cooperation from China to exert influence over North Korea, leaning heavily on Chinese President Xi Jinping for his assistance. The two leaders had a high-profile summit in Florida in April and Trump has frequently praised Xi while resisting criticizing Chinese trade practices.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis meet with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s Joint Staff Department prior to the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue at the State Department in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

It was unclear whether his remark represented a significant shift in his thinking in the U.S. effort to stop North Korea’s nuclear program and its test-launching of missiles or a hardening in U.S. policy toward China.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Beijing had made “unremitting efforts” to resolve tensions on the Korean peninsula, not as a result of external pressure but because China was a responsible member of the international community and resolving nuclear issue was in its own interests.

On Tuesday, a U.S. official said U.S. spy satellites had detected movements recently at North Korea’s nuclear test site near a tunnel entrance, but it was unclear if Pyongyang was preparing for a new nuclear test, perhaps to coincide with Wednesday’s high-level talks.

A South Korean Defense Ministry official said North Korea remained prepared to conduct a sixth nuclear test at any time but there were “no new unusual indications that can be shared.”

North Korea last tested a nuclear bomb in September, but it has conducted repeated missile tests since and vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, putting it at the forefront of Trump’s security worries.

Trump has hardened his rhetoric against North Korea following the death of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who died on Monday. He had returned to the United States in a coma after being held captive in North Korea.

On Tuesday the president called what happened to Warmbier “a disgrace.”

China’s state-run Global Times newspaper said Chinese officials must be wary that Warmbier’s death might push Washington to put greater pressure on Beijing, but China would not act as a “U.S. ally” on the issue.

If Washington imposed sanctions on Chinese enterprises dealing with North Korea, it would lead to “grave friction” between the two countries, wrote the paper, which does not represent Chinese government policy.

Trump’s tweet about China took some advisers by surprise. A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had limited options to rein in North Korea without Chinese assistance.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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Trump says China tried but failed to help on North Korea

June 21, 2017
Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and China’s President Xi Jinping walk along the front patio of the Mar-a-Lago estate after a bilateral meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
By Steve Holland and David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON
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President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Chinese efforts to persuade North Korea to rein in its nuclear program have failed, ratcheting up the rhetoric over the death of an American student who had been detained by Pyongyang.

Trump has held high hopes for greater cooperation from China to exert influence over North Korea, leaning heavily on Chinese President Xi Jinping for his assistance. The two leaders had a high-profile summit in Florida in April and Trump has frequently praised Xi while resisting criticizing Chinese trade practices.

“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

It was unclear whether his remark represented a significant shift in his thinking in the U.S. struggle to stop North Korea’s nuclear program and its test launching of missiles or a change in U.S. policy toward China.

“I think the president is signaling some frustration,” Christopher Hill, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, told MSNBC. “He’s signaling to others that he understands this isn’t working, and he’s trying to defend himself, or justify himself, by saying that at least they tried as opposed to others who didn’t even try.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defence detachment on Jangjae Islet and the Hero Defence Detachment on Mu Islet located in the southernmost part of the waters off the southwest front, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 5, 2017. KCNA/ via REUTERS
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On Tuesday, a U.S. official, who did not want to be identified, said U.S. spy satellites had detected movements recently at North Korea’s nuclear test site near a tunnel entrance, but it was unclear if these were preparations for a new nuclear test – perhaps to coincide with high-level talks between the United States and China in Washington on Wednesday.

“North Korea remains prepared to conduct a sixth nuclear test at any time when there is an order from leadership but there are no new unusual indications that can be shared,” a South Korean Defense Ministry official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Seoul was in close consultation with Washington over the matter, the official added.

North Korea last tested a nuclear bomb in September, but it has conducted repeated missile test since and vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, putting it at the forefront of Trump’s security worries.

U.S.-CHINA DIALOGUE

The Trump statement about China was likely to increase pressure on Beijing ahead of Wednesday’s Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, which will pair U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis with China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and General Fang Fenghui, chief of joint staff of the People’s Liberation Army.

 Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting, Monday, June 12, 2017, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (Andrew Harnik – Associated Press)

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The State Department says the dialogue will focus on ways to increase pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs, but also cover such areas as counter-terrorism and territorial rivalries in the strategic South China Sea.

The U.S. side is expected to press China to cooperate on a further toughening of international sanctions on North Korea. The United States and its allies would like to see an oil embargo and bans on the North Korean airline and guest workers among other moves, steps diplomats say have been resisted by China and Russia.

In a sign that U.S.-Chinese relations remain stable, a White House aide said Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, were invited by the Chinese government to visit the country later this year.

Trump has hardened his rhetoric against North Korea following the death of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who died on Monday in the United States after returning from captivity in North Korea in a coma.

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing

Otto Warmbier

“A DISGRACE”

In a White House meeting with visiting Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, Trump criticized the way Warmbier’s case was handled in the year since his arrest, appearing to assail both North Korea and his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

“What happened to Otto is a disgrace. And I spoke with his family. His family is incredible … but he should have been brought home a long time ago,” Trump said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States holds North Korea accountable for Warmbier’s “unjust imprisonment” and urged Pyongyang to release three other Americans who are detained.

Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times, published by the official People’s Daily, said Chinese officials must be wary that Warmbier’s death might push Washington to put greater pressure on Beijing.

“China has made the utmost efforts to help break the stalemate in the North Korean nuclear issue. But by no means will China, nor will Chinese society permit it to, act as a ‘U.S. ally’ in pressuring North Korea,” the Global Times said in an editorial.

If Washington imposes sanctions on Chinese enterprises, it would lead to “grave friction” between the two countries, said the paper, which does not represent Chinese government policy.

Trump’s tweet about China took some advisers by surprise. A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States had limited options to rein in North Korea without Chinese assistance.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is less likely following Warmbier’s death.

Spicer said Trump would be willing to meet Kim under the right conditions, but “clearly we’re moving further away, not closer to those conditions.”

For graphic on Americans detained by North Korea, click: tmsnrt.rs/2r5xYpB

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, David Alexander and John Walcott in Washington, Jack Kim in Seoul and Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Howard Goller, Leslie Adler and Lincoln Feast)

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US and China officials meet under North Korea cloud — De-nuclearizing the peninsula is the goal — Has China done enough to stop Kim Jong-un?

June 21, 2017

AFP

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sitting, suit and table

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping shaking hands during a dinner at Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, on April, 6, 2017, PHOTO by NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Senior US officials will meet their Chinese counterparts Wednesday to seek a tougher line on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions — despite President Donald Trump implying this is already a lost cause.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are to meet top Beijing diplomat State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, chief of Chinese army staff, at the State Department.

US officials said the first and main item on the agenda would be persuading China to lean on Kim Jong-Un’s North Korea regime, in order to halt its provocative missile and nuclear plans.

But, just hours before the talks began, Trump sent a tweet implying that China’s President Xi Jinping had already tried and failed to rein in Pyongyang.

“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!” Trump tweeted.

Trump did not elaborate on what might happen next, and US diplomats insisted the talks would go ahead as planned, and with the same agenda.

In April, Trump hosted Xi at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, glossing over his harsh campaign comments against Beijing and — after apparently successful talks — hailing the dawn of “a very, very great relationship.”

Last month Beijing and Washington signed a limited deal to open new markets for each other’s exports, and a long-standing friend of the Chinese leadership, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, was confirmed as ambassador.

But tensions remain — particularly over China’s building of artificial islands in disputed South China Sea waters, and Washington’s strong desire to get Beijing to rein in Kim Jong-Un’s isolated North Korean regime.

Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said that the first meeting of the new “US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue” on Wednesday would focus on North Korea.

“We continue to urge China to exert its unique leverage as North Korea’s largest trading partner, including by fully implementing all UN Security Council sanctions,” she said.

Despite international condemnation and sanctions, North Korea has a small nuclear arsenal and is developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that threaten Japan and South Korea — and one-day could even hit some US cities.

Washington has some 28,000 troops deployed in South Korea and a naval armada in the region.

– Prisoner in a coma –

Last week, the release of a detained US tourist in what initially seemed a gesture of goodwill by Pyongyang turned sour when it was revealed that 22-year-old Otto Warmbier had been in a coma for some time.

Warmbier died on Monday after returning to his hometown in Ohio, triggering outrage in the United States.

Trump’s White House has made halting the nuclear threat its number one foreign policy priority, putting aside concerns over trade and currency manipulation to seek Beijing’s help in facing down Kim.

China has tightened controls on trade in North Korean coal, but many doubt that Beijing will truly enforce any sanctions that might threaten the stability of its unpredictable neighbor.

– Isolate Kim –

“We’re going to be focusing, as I said, on particularly on the urgent threat posed by North Korea, and we expect that that will take some time,” Thornton said.

“We don’t expect that we’ll resolve that problem on Wednesday.”

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, agrees that the few short weeks since the Mar-a-Lago summit was probably too short to be able to tell whether China is ready to isolate Kim.

He said Monday the Pentagon would maintain lines of communication with the Chinese military to head off any escalation in the South China Sea, but keep this separate from the diplomatic effort on North Korea.

“Secretary Tillerson has said that a key element of any success we would have in de-nuclearizing the peninsula would be the cooperation of China,” he said.

by Dave Clark
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US Sends Supersonic Bombers in Show of Force Against North Korea

June 20, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea says the United States has flown two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force during joint military drills.

U.S. and South Korean warplanes regularly conduct drills, but Tuesday’s flights came shortly after the death of a U.S. college student who was recently released by North Korea in a coma following more than 17 months of captivity.

South Korea conducts joint drill with US supersonic B-1B Lancer bomber (file picture) after North Korea's latest ballistic missile test

B-1 bomber flyover. File photo

Seoul’s Defense Ministry said the B-1B bombers were part of routine exercises with South Korea aimed at showing deterrence against North Korea. The U.S. military said the bombers conducted drills with the Japanese and South Korean air forces, demonstrating solidarity with the U.S. allies.

The United States stations tens of thousands of troops in South Korea and Japan.

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