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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

All News 16:00 July 03, 2020

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

Pro-N. Korea paper slams Bolton, Abe for hindering inter-Korean reconciliation

SEOUL, June 26 (Yonhap) -- A pro-North Korea newspaper in Japan on Friday slammed former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton for breaking up talks between Pyongyang and Washington and hampering inter-Korean reconciliation.

The criticism came in response to Bolton's memoir, "The Room Where It Happened," in which he shares details of President Donald Trump's foreign policy decisions and his account of nuclear talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, including how negotiations fell apart in the Hanoi summit.

"It has been reaffirmed that Bolton is in cahoots with the Japanese government, getting in the way of inter-Korean reconciliation," the Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korea newspaper in Japan, said in a column.

U.S. calls out N.K. regime for torture in detention facilities

WASHINGTON, June 26 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. State Department called out the North Korean regime on Friday for allegedly using torture against defectors and others held in detention facilities.

The department said in a statement marking the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture that various countries, including Iran and China, use torture to suppress and punish their populations.

"The North Korean regime also continues to employ torture as a standard practice in its detention facilities, particularly against defectors -- including children -- forcibly returned from abroad," it said.

Trump-Kim summit unlikely before U.S. presidential election: U.S. envoy

WASHINGTON, June 29 (Yonhap) -- The top U.S. envoy for North Korea said Monday that another summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is unlikely before the November presidential election in the United States.

Stephen Biegun, deputy secretary of state and lead negotiator on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, made the comment during a virtual forum hosted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a think tank headquartered in Washington.

"I think it's probably unlikely between now and the U.S. election," he said in response to a question about the possibility of Trump and Kim meeting again.

U.S. nat'l security adviser calls on N. Korea to stop provocations, return to dialogue

WASHINGTON, June 30 (Yonhap) -- U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien on Tuesday called on North Korea to refrain from provocations and return to dialogue.

O'Brien's comment comes after North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in anger over anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets sent by defectors but then suspended plans to take military action against South Korea.

He said the United States wants to see North Korea achieve a "bright economic future" under leader Kim Jong-un, and that President Donald Trump remains committed to "enduring peace" on the Korean Peninsula.

N. Korea's life expectancy is 72 years: U.N. report

SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- The average North Korean can expect to live 72 years, a U.N. population organization's data showed, putting the impoverished communist nation at 118th in the world in terms of life expectancy.

The life expectancy of North Korean babies born this year is estimated to be 11 years shorter than that of South Korea, according to the latest "State of World Population 2020" report by the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

South Korea came in 9th among 198 countries with an average life expectancy of 83 years.

N. Korea's grain imports soar in April amid chronic food shortages: data

SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's grain imports from Russia nearly tripled on-year in April, data showed Wednesday, amid Pyongyang's chronic food shortages compounded by extreme weather and the coronavirus pandemic hampering cross-border trade.

According to the data by the U.S. International Trade Commission, the North imported around US$7.41 million worth of grain from Russia in April, compared with $2.55 million worth of imports reported a year earlier.

The amount far exceeded $3.79 million tallied in 2019. It was also slightly smaller than the $8.25 million in combined grain imports from Russia during the previous five years, the data showed.

Moon hopes Trump to meet N.K. leader before November election: Cheong Wa Dae

SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in hopes that U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will meet each other again ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election in order to reactivate the Korea peace process, a senior Cheong Wa Dae official said Wednesday.

Cheong Wa Dae has already conveyed Moon's idea to the White House in their "close communication" especially following the North's demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong in mid-June, according to the official.

"The U.S. side understands (Moon's position), and it's currently making efforts (for that), as far as I know," he told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

USFK commander calls for major combined drills against evolving N.K. threats

SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States should continue to stage large-scale combined military exercises in the face of North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile capabilities, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) commander Gen. Robert Abrams said Wednesday.

In a speech during a forum held in Seoul, Abrams also noted that more work needs to be done for the planned transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean forces from Washington to Seoul.

"Unfortunately, we had to postpone our theatre-level combined post command training this year due to the ongoing global pandemic. While we have been able to conduct important leader development training, that in no way replicates the rigor and realism of our semi-annual theatre-level training events," Abrams said.

62 countries violated N.K. sanctions last year: report

SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- Over 250 cases of violation of international sanctions against North Korea were identified in 62 countries over a one-year period, according to a recent think tank report, despite tight sanctions imposed over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

A total of 62 countries violated United Nations sanctions on North Korea between February 2019 and February 2020, according to a recent report by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) think tank.

Among them, the North's top trading partner China had the highest number of alleged violations with over 60 cases, representing nearly a quarter of the total number of violations.

Bolton says Trump could meet Kim again to help reelection

WASHINGTON, July 2 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump could meet again with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un if he believes a summit would help his reelection chances, Trump's former National Security Adviser John Bolton said Thursday.

Bolton's comment comes after President Moon Jae-in renewed his resolve to enable a fourth Trump-Kim meeting before the U.S. presidential election in November.

While Trump and Kim last met in the Demilitarized Zone on the inter-Korean border in June 2019, efforts to reach a nuclear deal have stalled due to differences over the scope of North Korea's denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.

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