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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

All News 16:00 June 07, 2019

SEOUL, June 7 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

Nuke envoys of S. Korea, U.S., Japan discuss N. Korea in Singapore

SINGAPORE, May 31 (Yonhap) -- The chief nuclear envoys of South Korea, the United States and Japan held trilateral talks in Singapore on Friday to explore ways to break the current impasse in negotiations on North Korea's denuclearization, officials said.

The envoys -- Lee Do-hoon, Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs; U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun; and Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau -- held the closed-door dinner meeting at the Shangri-La Hotel, according to the officials.

The three envoys last met in Washington on March 7.

Pompeo says U.S. is looking into reports of purge of N.K. officials

WASHINGTON, May 31 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday the United States is looking into reports that several top North Korean officials have been purged in the wake of the no-deal February summit between the countries' leaders.

"We've seen the reporting to which you're referring," Pompeo said during a press conference in Berlin. "We're doing our best to check it out. I don't have anything else to add to that today."

The Chosun Ilbo, a conservative South Korean daily, reported the same day that North Korea had executed Kim Hyok-chol, its special envoy for the U.S., along with several foreign ministry officials who had been involved in preparations for the second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam.

Pentagon chief says N.K. remains 'extraordinary' threat

SINGAPORE, June 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea remains an "extraordinary" threat to regional and global security, acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said Saturday, calling on China and other countries to work closely for sanctions.

He, however, stressed his strong backing for diplomacy "to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and uphold the international rule of law," in his keynote speech during the 18th Asia Security Summit, better known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore.

"We acknowledge that North Korea has neared a point where it could credibly strike regional allies, U.S. territory, and our forward-deployed forces. North Korea remains an extraordinary threat and requires continued vigilance," Shanahan said.

Same type of missiles fired in N. Korea's two weapons tests last month: Seoul

SINGAPORE, June 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to have fired the same type of short-range missiles during its two weapons tests last month, South Korea's defense minister has said.

It is the first time that Seoul has described what the North fired on May 4 as missiles. It had used the term "a new type of tactical guided weapons," while refusing to confirm if they were missiles or not.

As for the projectiles that the North launched five days later, the Seoul military said they involved two short-range missiles, and more analysis is required to tell if the North launched the same weapons or not during those tests.

S. Korea, U.S., Japan vow cooperation for N.K. denuclearization

SINGAPORE, June 2 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministers of South Korea, the United States and Japan vowed Sunday to maintain close defense cooperation to support diplomacy for the complete denuclearization of North Korea.

The pledge was made during the trilateral meeting among South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, acting U.S. Defense Minister Patrick Shanahan and their Japanese counterpart, Takeshi Iwaya, in Singapore on the sidelines of the Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.

The three sides "vowed to closely cooperate to support the current diplomatic efforts to establish complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula," according to their joint statement.

Pentagon chief calls on N.K. to engage 'productively' in dialogue for denuclearization

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called on North Korea on Monday to engage "productively" in nuclear talks, stressing the "only acceptable end-state" is a complete, verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula.

The Pentagon chief made the remarks as Seoul and Washington strive to create fresh momentum for the resumption of negotiations with Pyongyang, which have been stalled since the no-deal summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February.

"As always, we're hopeful that the North Koreans will engage productively through diplomatic channels to resolve our concerns," he said in his opening remarks during talks with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo in Seoul.

Moon, Pentagon chief discuss alliance, N. Korea sanctions

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the visiting Pentagon chief agreed Monday that it's important to maintain a robust alliance between the two nations and sanctions on North Korea, as Pyongyang refuses to take further denuclearization steps.

In a meeting with acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan at Cheong Wa Dae, Moon said, "In order to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and permanent peace, the South Korea-U.S. alliance is more important than any other thing."

He expressed hope that the U.S. will support the peace process on the basis of a strong alliance, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung.

Pompeo says N.K. launches 'probably' violated U.N. resolutions

WASHINGTON, June 3 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that North Korea "probably" violated United Nations resolutions with its missile launches last month, but that it's important to focus on the ultimate goal of denuclearization.

The U.S. has sent mixed messages regarding the North's missile launches on May 9, with President Donald Trump saying he views them "differently" from his own national security adviser, John Bolton, who condemned them as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang.

Trump has said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may have wanted to get attention by firing the short-range missiles following their no-deal summit in Vietnam in February.

Trump disputes report of N.K. officials' execution

WASHINGTON, June 5 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday disputed a news report that North Korea has executed its nuclear negotiators over the collapse of February's summit between the two countries.

South Korea's conservative Chosun Ilbo reported last week that North Korea had executed its special representative for the U.S., Kim Hyok-chol, along with four officials of the ministry of foreign affairs, to hold them accountable for the no-deal summit in Vietnam between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"I don't know if those reports are correct because one of the gentlemen we deal with is ... is somebody that we know well," Trump told reporters at Shannon Airport in Ireland. "He's a strong man, he's a strong person and they like to blame Kim Jong-un immediately, but they said he was killed, and he wasn't."

N.K. uranium plant indicates ongoing operations: U.S. monitor

WASHINGTON, June 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's main nuclear complex shows continued activity around its uranium enrichment facility, indicating ongoing operations at the plant, a U.S. monitor said Wednesday.

38 North, a project run by the Stimson Center think tank, said recent commercial satellite imagery shows the movement of vehicles, equipment and personnel near the uranium facility at Yongbyon.

"Our observation, that periodic material transport (e.g., possibly to deliver liquid nitrogen) has continued at the Uranium Enrichment Complex over time, provides a new indicator that the complex is operational, and therefore that it is also most likely producing enriched uranium," 38 North said on its website, citing satellite imagery from past months up to May 28.

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