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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

All Headlines 16:00 January 04, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

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Wang Yi voices support for progress in inter-Korean ties, calls for implementation of Singapore summit

BEIJING, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has expressed his support for the recent progress in inter-Korean relations and urged North Korea and the United States to swiftly enforce the agreement reached at the June summit.

"China has supported denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, establishment of a peace regime on it and resolving issues through talks consistently and made the efforts for more than 20 years," Wang was quoted as saying by his office during an interview with local media Saturday.

He said the North's leadership became determined to focus on denuclearization as the situation on the Korean Peninsula turned around this year.

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N. Korea downplays deadlock in peace process as 'temporary phenomenon'

SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean state media outlet downplayed the deadlock in its negotiating process with the United States as a "temporary phenomenon" that typically happens at times of great changes.

The North's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, made the assessment in an editorial reviewing 2018, saying there has been a "dramatic change" in the country's strategic position in the international community.

Referring to the North's historic first-ever summit with the U.S. and three inter-Korean summits, the newspaper said that a new trend has taken shape on the Korean Peninsula and in the region toward peace and reducing tensions.

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N. Korea rails against Japan for clinging to sanctions and pressure

SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's state media blasted Japan on Monday for clinging to sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang, saying that Tokyo is ignorant of change underway on the Korean Peninsula and actions the North has taken for peace and prosperity.

In a commentary, the Korean Central News Agency urged Japan to stop talking "rubbish," arguing that the time is not right for the international community to apply sanctions exemptions on North Korea.

"Shortly ago, Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations (Koro) Bessho talked rubbish that the time is not yet ripe to apply an exception to the resolution of sanctions on North Korea and he would appeal to various countries to strictly implement the sanctions resolution in contact with the U.S.," the KCNA said.

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Kim says he is ready to meet with Trump, warns of seeking 'new way' if U.S. pressure continues

SEOUL, Jan. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said Tuesday he is firmly committed to denuclearization and ready to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at any time, but warned he could seek an alternative course if the United States misjudges his patience and sticks to sanctions.

Kim made the remarks during his New Year's speech broadcast by the country's state television, also urging the U.S. to take corresponding measures in exchange for denuclearization steps the communist nation has taken so far.

Kim also said he is willing to reopen the now shuttered inter-Korean industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong and resume a suspended tour program to Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast "without any preconditions."

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Trump says he looks forward to 2nd meeting with N.K. leader

WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he looks forward to a second meeting with the North Korean leader, after Kim Jong-un said he is ready to meet any time.

"'Kim Jong Un says North Korea will not make or test nuclear weapons, or give them to others - & he is ready to meet President Trump anytime,'" Trump tweeted, apparently citing a PBS News Hour report on Kim's New Year's address earlier in the day.

"I also look forward to meeting with Chairman Kim who realizes so well that North Korea possesses great economic potential!"

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Pro-N. Korean paper calls for sanctions lifting before 2nd summit with U.S.

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- The United States should first drop its push for sanctions and pressure against North Korea if a second summit between the two countries is going to happen, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan said Wednesday.

"If the U.S. president moves from his anachronistic mindset bent on sanctions to resolve anything and also from a variant version of talk of adjusting speeds (on negotiations) and draws up a right 2019 business plan, it would be possible to find a clue to the second summit between North Korea and the U.S.," the Choson Sinbo said in an article.

In his New Year's Day address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that he is committed to complete denuclearization and ready for a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. But he also demanded the U.S. drop its sanctions-oriented policy, warning of a new way unless the demand is met.

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N.K. media highlights economic development after leader Kim's address

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's main newspaper devoted much of its Wednesday edition to articles about economic development efforts, a day after leader Kim Jong-un called for increased efforts to rebuild the impoverished economy.

In his New Year's Day address, Kim said North Korea should enter a new stage of growth through its own technical forces and resources. The annual speech has been used by Kim to outline key policy goals and directions for the new year.

In the nationally televised half-hour speech Tuesday, Kim used the word "economy" in Korean 38 times, up 81 percent from last year when he used the same word 21 times.

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S. Korea, U.S. discuss N. Korean leader's latest message

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- The top nuclear envoys of South Korea and the United States had phone talks with each other Wednesday on the New Year's address by North Korea's leader.

Stephen Biegun, Washington's special representative for Pyongyang, and his counterpart Lee Do-hoon compared assessments of Kim Jong-un's message, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Biegun also briefed Lee on information related to recent contact between the two sides during their half-hour conversation, it added.

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Trump says he received 'great letter' from N.K. leader

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he received a "great letter" from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and expects the two will have another meeting soon.

Kim said in his New Year's address Tuesday that he is ready for a second meeting with Trump at any time and is committed to "complete denuclearization."

But he also warned that the North may be compelled to "find a new way" to defend its interests if the U.S. continues with sanctions and pressure against the regime.

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N. Korean diplomat in Italy vanishes amid reports of asylum bid

SEOUL/ROME, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean diplomat has deserted the country's embassy in Italy and disappeared together with his wife, South Korea's state intelligence agency said Thursday, amid reports he is seeking asylum in a third country.

Jo Song-gil, the charge d'affaires of the North's Embassy in Rome, has been unaccounted for since early November ahead of the planned end of his assignment in Italy later that month, the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing, according to Rep. Kim Min-ki of the ruling Democratic Party.

Earlier in the day, a newspaper reported that Jo is seeking asylum in a third country, and Italian authorities are protecting the 48-year-old Jo and his family at a safe place. It was not known if Jo had expressed a desire to go to South Korea, the report said.

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U.N. envoy on human rights to visit S. Korea next week

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- A United Nations expert on human rights will visit South Korea next week to collect information on North Korea, his office has said.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, special rapporteur on the human rights situation in North Korea, will meet government and civic group officials and North Korean defectors during his trip to Seoul from Monday to Friday next week, according to the office.

He regularly visits South Korea and reports annually to the U.N. council on human rights. Next week's trip will be his fifth to South Korea since he was appointed to the post in March 2016. He last visited Seoul in July 2018.
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