nsucurrent.com May 20, 2018

Korea talks can't distract from denuclearization: Mattis

29 January 2018, 09:00 | Colleen Roy

North Korea slams US sanctions as wild violation of int'l law

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Abe also intends to tell Moon that their countries and the U.S. need to work closely together to deal with North Korea's nuclear and missile development.

US military exercises with South Korea will be held after the Olympics as planned despite a demand for a complete suspension from the North, the Pentagon said.

"The intelligence community has provided to your committee today evidence of how vessels originate in China, they turn off their transponders as they move into North Korean waters and dock at North Korean ports and they on load commodities such as coal", Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea said at the time.

Any North Korean attack would be "severely rebuffed", Mattis added.

He renewed that message as he met South Korean Minister of Defence Song Young-moo at the U.S. Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii.

North and South Korea have announced plans to field a unified women's hockey team for the Games. Participants from South Korea will visit North Korea after lunch, attend the event and return home before dinner.

The scholar suggested that North Korea coming to the talks is largely aimed at breaking free of the mounting pressure imposed by economic sanctions, countering conventional wisdom that the North's overture is created to drive a wedge between South Korea and the US.

Some analysts have argued that the recent dialogue, brought on by a New Year's Day proclamation by Kim that encouraged talks, is a tactic to try to separate South Korea from the us, its security guarantor.

Under the deal, Japan paid 1 billion yen ($9.1 million) to a South Korean foundation set up to support former comfort women, while South Korea said it "will strive to solve" the issue of a statue symbolizing comfort women in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul that Japan wants relocated. He has called the talks a "positive indicator", but questioned how much traction such discussions will have.

"I don't think North Korea will stick to inter-Korean talks. The problem is how can you maintain this momentum going forward", Merrill said. Mattis has said they would resume after the March 8-18 Paralympics.

North and South Korea remain in a technical state of war, since their 1950s conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

North Korea violates United Nations sanctions, exporting coal to South Korea and Japan, with supplies passing through Russian Federation, according to the Western intelligence agencies.

Pyongyang has also continued to advance its ballistic missile program, in hopes of being able to threaten the United States.

As North and South Korea prepare for next month's Winter Games, the prompt for the unexpected rapprochement remains a subject of debate. Pyongyang has firmly defended its military program as a deterrent against the hostile policies of the United States and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.

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