By Kim Soo-yeon
SEOUL, May 10 (Yonhap) — Moon Jae-in, who is sure to win South Korea’s presidential election, has vowed to restore engagement with North Korea and play an active role in diplomatic efforts to curb its nuclear weapons program, ending nearly a decade of frozen ties and strategic inertia, as he puts it, under his two conservative predecessors.
But his conciliatory ambitions face tough hurdles, experts said. The first benchmark for a dialogue-based approach would be for North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile tests.
On the campaign trail, Moon vowed to seek a dual-track approach of pushing denuclearization and dialogue with Pyongyang.
“Moon will be willing to hold dialogue with North Korea. I believe North Korea’s halt to refining its nuclear program would be a starting point from which Moon could implement his North Korea policy,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University.
This photo taken on May 6, 2017, shows Moon Jae-in, then a candidate of the liberal Democratic Party, on the campaign trail. (Yonhap)
Inter-Korean relations frayed for nine years under the conservative administrations of Moon’s two predecessors, including former President Park Geun-hye, who was ousted in March over corruption charges.
The late former liberal President Kim Dae-jung and his successor, Roh Moo-hyun, pursued an engagement policy with North Korea in 1998-2008, which led to vibrant inter-Korean reconciliatory projects.
Moon, a former chief of staff of Roh, is widely expected to continue such a policy to improve inter-Korean ties.
But the situation on the Korean Peninsula has markedly changed from what it was during Kim and Roh’s leadership as the North’s nuclear and missile programs have advanced.
Pyongyang conducted two nuclear tests last year alone, following those in 2006, 2009 and 2013, in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his News Year’s message that his country has entered the final stage of preparing to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the United States.
“The new administration should first prompt North Korea to suspend its nuclear test and an ICBM launch if it hopes for better ties,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute. “There is a need to hold summits between both sides’ leaders.”
This photo carried by North Korea’s main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, on May 10, 2016, shows the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, at a congress of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)
Experts stressed that Moon should fine-tune Seoul’s stance with the U.S. to persuade the U.S. that his engagement policy would keep pace with the international sanctions regime.
Moon’s assumption of the presidency came amid concerns that South Korea may be marginalized in the process of bringing peace to the peninsula as the U.S. and China appear to be taking the initiative in resolving the North Koren nuclear issue.
The U.S. said it aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear and missile programs through sanctions while remaining open to dialogue. U.S. President Donald Trump is pressing China to rein in its unruly neighbor.
“Moon should send a special envoy to the U.S. as soon as possible to adjust the government’s stance with the U.S.,” Cheong said. “If the North pledges to halt an ICBM test, the U.S. would probably understand Seoul’s move for inter-Korean dialogue.”
To create the right mood for talks, some experts called for resuming now-suspended inter-Korean projects — a joint industrial complex in North Korea’s border city of Kaesong and a joint tour program at Mount Kumgang on the North’s east coast.
This photo taken on Feb. 6, 2017, shows the now-shuttered joint industrial complex in North Korea’s border city of Kaesong. (Yonhap)
In February 2016, South Korea shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex in response to a North Korean nuclear test and long-range rocket launch .
The government halted the tour project at Mount Kumgang in July 2008 after a South Korean tourist was killed by a North Korean soldier there.
But a resumption of the factory zone, once hailed as the symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation, is a tricky issue due to the possibility of South Korea violating U.N. sanctions resolutions against the North, analysts say.
Seoul closed the industrial park, saying that the money generated from there is suspected of bankrolling the North’s nuclear and missile programs.
Moon struck a cautious note over hasty resumptions of the two projects.
“If North Korea comes to talks for denuclearization after freezing its nukes, we would be able to resume the Kaesong complex and the tour program,” Moon told a forum in late April.
“Moon needs to pursue policies that call for better communication with nationals, North Korea and the international community,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.
Analysts said that Moon’s administration is widely expected to kick-start humanitarian assistance and inter-Korean exchanges in non-political sectors.
In May 2010, South Korea slapped sanctions on North Korea including suspension of economic and cultural exchanges to punish it for the torpedoing of a South Korean warship in March of that year.
The government of Moon’s predecessor vowed in 2015 to encourage civic groups to increase exchanges with the North. But Seoul suspended almost all civilian exchanges due to Pyongyang’s provocations last year.
“Moon will likely aggressively seek exchanges in non-political sectors such as support for infants and reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War,” said Kim at Dongguk University.
Experts said that the government may be able to build a reconciliatory mood this year as South Korea will host the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February 2018. South Korea said it will welcome North Korean participation.
“South Korea should take the lead in handling issues of the peninsula,” Yang said. “It needs to fine-tune its stance over its North Korea policy with the U.S. and its neighboring countries and also revive behind-the-scene contact with North Korea.”
By Yarden Skop (Haaretz):
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Prime Minister’s statement
Welcome to Downing Street, it’s very good to have the opportunity to talk again in advance of the leaders’ meeting at the end of this month. I really wanted to confirm, and reaffirm, the commitment that the UK has to NATO. We see it as the bedrock of UK security and we are pleased to be playing the role that we are in the alliance.
At the moment we have a number of commitments – nearly 1,000 troops in Estonia and Poland and the RAF Typhoons in the Black Sea as part of that project there. We very much consider it important here in the UK that we spend 2% of our GDP on defence and also meet the 20% on equipment commitment as well.
And obviously as we look ahead to the leaders’ discussions, there will be a number of issues, including encouraging others to play their role in terms of the support for NATO. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to talk to you about these and other issues that are on the agenda.
Secretary General Stoltenberg’s statement
Thank you so much Prime Minister, thank you for welcoming me back to Downing Street. I am really looking forward to discussing with you our preparations for the upcoming meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels on May 25. There are two topics on the agenda – burden sharing and fighting terrorism, and the UK is leading by example on both these fronts.
When it comes to burden sharing, you spend 2% of GDP on defence, I welcome that very much and hope your allies are starting to increase also their resonance in defence. But you also contribute in many other ways. You are now leading our multi-national battalion in Estonia. You are the lead nation for our high readiness force and you are in the skies through the Royal Air Force in the Black Sea region, providing policing.
So when it comes to burden sharing and contributing to our shared security, you are really a lead nation and I thank you for that. Also when it comes to fighting terrorism, I very much appreciate the contributions from the UK. You have been in Afghanistan for many, many years together with NATO allies.
We will address our presence in Afghanistan at the leaders’ meeting but we will also address what more NATO can do to step up its efforts to fight international terrorism, including providing support to the counter-Isil coalition. And I strongly believe that the best thing you can do to fight against terrorism is to train local forces, enabling them to stabilise their own country and to fight terrorism themselves.
So there are many important issues on the agenda and we are looking forward to welcoming you to Brussels. So thank you.
May 10, 2017
At Israel’s initiative, Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr Netanyahu warmly congratulated Mr Putin and the entire Russian people on the 72ndanniversary of Victory in World War II.
Both leaders noted that Russia and Israel would continue their resolute opposition to attempts to revise the results of World War II, diminish the Soviet Union’s contribution to victory over Nazi Germany, and deny the Holocaust.
Mr Putin and Mr Netanyahu discussed current bilateral cooperation matters, the situation with the Middle East peace settlement and the Syrian crisis.
The phone call was after the letter. They are super close…..
Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg delivers a speech during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 22, 2016. (Xinhua/Lino De Vallier)
VIENNA, May 10 (Xinhua) — Social media company Facebook has been forced to delete hate posts worldwide following a ruling in the Higher Regional Court (OLG) of Vienna, local media reported on Tuesday.
Up until now Facebook had only been required to block the posts in the country in which they were made.
The case was spearheaded by the Austrian Greens Party, who used a fake Facebook profile that had made defamatory posts about their party leader Eva Glawischnig as a basis for their complaint, the Upper Austria OO Nachrichten reported.
Initially the Commercial Court in Vienna had ordered the posts be deleted, prompting a legal challenge from Facebook. On Monday the OLG rejected this, and issued an interim injunction.
Lawyer for the Greens Maria Windhager said the social media giant claims it can only be legally challenged in either California or in Ireland, where its European Union headquarters is based.
She said should the company not follow the OLG ruling, legal action will then be pursued in Ireland, that could result in fines or the company having its servers switched off.
The OO Nachrichten cited media legal expert Winfried Sattlegger as being sceptical the Greens initiative would have its intended outcome, however.
He said it would be difficult, given the varying legal systems around the world, and the lack of umbrella regulation.
In addition the material exists on a number of servers and could therefore not see a straight-forward deletion on a global scale, he argued.