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(News Focus) Park wins African support against N. Korea's nuclear program

All News 15:58 June 01, 2016

By Kim Kwang-tae

NAIROBI, June 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye has achieved notable success on her three-nation trip through Africa as countries pledged to work with the international community to pressure North Korea to give up is nuclear weapons program, observers said Wednesday.

Such a feat will make it harder for the reclusive country to hold out against the toughest ever sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council in early March following the North's fourth nuclear test in January and long-range missile launch the following month.

She, in particular, scored a coup by getting a clear commitment from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who had longstanding relations with North Korea, to support the international community's effort to push Pyongyang into surrendering its nuclear ambitions. The longtime leader visited Pyongyang three times and met with North Korea's founder Kim Il-Sung, the late grandfather of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Museveni told Park on Sunday that his country will cut off security and military cooperation with North Korea.

"We are disengaging from our cooperation with North Korea as a result of the U.N. sanctions. Our policy is that we don't support nuclear proliferation," said Uganda's Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa.

In addition, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday said his country too will join international efforts to denuclearize North Korea. He condemned North Korea's provocative acts and vowed to faithfully enforce the U.N. sanctions on North Korea during his summit with Park in Nairobi.

Ethiopian Prime Minister has also pledged to faithfully enforce the U.N. sanctions and to push to get other African countries to support denuclearization of North Korea by exercising Ethiopia's influence on the continent.

Still, North Korea showed no signs of giving up its nuclear program, which it views as a powerful deterrent against what it claims is Washington's hostile policy toward it.

In a move seemingly highlighting its defiance against international sanctions and calls to give up its weapons of mass destruction program, North Korea tried to launch an intermediate-range ballistic missile Tuesday, despite the fact that it is barred from doing so under U.N. resolutions.

The launch of the Musudan missile ended in failure, the fourth time an intermediate range ballistic missile failed to meet Pyongyang's expectations.

Daniel Pinkston, a Korea expert at Troy University's Global Campus in Seoul, said South Korea has "the means and resources to recruit allies and influence the behavior" of these African countries.

A key initial litmus test in Park's diplomatic achievement in her swing through Africa appears to depend on what steps Uganda will take against some 50 North Korean military and police personnel believed to be working in Uganda.

An unidentified official at the North Korean Embassy in Uganda has declined to comment on their fate.

“Seoul should provide the right incentives for Uganda -- potential punishments for noncompliance and rewards -- although rewards are not necessary in a strict legal sense,” Pinkston said.

“Seoul can provide some kind of sweetener to ensure compliance, but this would make Seoul vulnerable to criticism of corruption for bribing Uganda for what it should be doing anyway.”

Providing military training services is a violation of the U.N. sanctions.


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