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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

All News 16:00 September 11, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 11 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

N. Korea shows activity suggesting preparations for SLBM launch: CSIS

SEOUL, Sept. 6 (Yonhap) -- Satellite imagery has shown activity at North Korea's main submarine shipyard in a possible sign that the communist nation could be preparing to test-fire a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), a U.S. think tank reported.

The primary indicator suggesting preparations for an SLBM launch is the presence of vessels at the North's Sinpo shipyard on the east coast, including one that resembles vessels previously used to tow the test stand barge out to sea, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Another indicator may be the presence of not one but two ROMEO-class submarines anchored within the bay of the submarine base on Mayang Island off the coast of Sinpo, the CSIS said in a report on its Beyond Parallel website, citing satellite imagery of the shipyard taken on Friday.

U.N. chief says diplomacy is 'only pathway' to sustainable peace and denuclearization

SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that diplomacy is the "only pathway" to sustainable peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, urging the two Koreas and the United States to restart diplomatic efforts and resume their stalled dialogue.

Guterres made the appeal in an online message delivered through YouTube for the Korean Global Forum for Peace, an annual forum organized by Seoul's unification ministry, expressing support for South and North Korea to seek cross-border cooperation in combating infectious diseases and natural disasters.

"In 2018, leaders of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, and the United States showed that dialogue is possible and that diplomacy is the only pathway to sustainable peace and denuclearization," he said, using the North's official name.

S. Korea to use ARF meeting to urge N. Korea to return to nuke talks

SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will use the region's biggest annual security forum taking place this week to send a message that North Korea should return to the negotiating table, foreign ministry officials said Monday.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha plans to take part in a series of annual meetings led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), set to take place from Wednesday through Saturday.

This year's meetings will be held via videoconferencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump denies viewing 'love letters' from N. Korea's Kim just as such

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday refuted claims that he had considered what he has called "beautiful letters" from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un just as those, apparently dismissing the naivety such a claim may imply.

"Just heard that wacko John Bolton was talking of the fact that I discussed "love letters from Kim Jong-un" as though I viewed them as just that," Trump wrote on his twitter account.

"Obviously, was just being sarcastic," he added, while also calling his former national security adviser by another name.

WFP chief urges more int'l cooperation in helping N. Korea amid pandemic-sparked restrictions

SEOUL, Sept. 8 (Yonhap) -- The head of the World Food Programme called Tuesday for stepped-up international cooperation and engagement in providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea despite restrictions caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

In his online keynote speech for the Korea Global Forum for Peace, an annual forum organized by Seoul's unification ministry, WFP Executive Director David Beasley also lauded South Korea for actively contributing to aid projects and expressed hope that other countries will follow suit.

"The WFP, and a wide array of humanitarian community in the DPRK, we stand ready to respond to emergencies whenever they occur," he said in the speech delivered through YouTube. "But any successful effort to improve food security in the DPRK is critically dependent on international cooperation, and international cooperation must also underpin the global community's engagement with the DPRK government."

Flattery drove Trump to meet Kim three times: Woodward

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (Yonhap) -- It may have been flattery that encouraged U.S. President Donald Trump to continue his meetings and exchanges with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un despite opposition from his own adviser and possibly at the expense of giving the dictator global recognition, a news report suggested Wednesday.

Quoting excerpts from a new book by its associate editor, Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reported, "Trump was taken with Kim's flattery" and that he has "pridefully" told Woodward that Kim had addressed him as "excellency."

The new book, "Rage," includes excerpts from 25 letters exchanged between Kim and Trump, in one of which Kim said he wanted "another historic meeting between myself and Your Excellency reminiscent of a scene from a fantasy film," the report said.

Trump says N. Korean leader is in 'good health'

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in "good health," dismissing speculation that the reclusive leader may have suffered serious health issues.

"Kim Jong Un is in good health. Never underestimate him," Trump wrote on Twitter.

The short statement came one day after a series of reports suggested that Kim may have played the U.S. president with flattery, citing excerpts from an upcoming book by famed journalist Bob Woodward, who claims to have obtained 25 previously unpublicized letters exchanged between Trump and Kim.

Pompeo urges N. Korea to return to dialogue

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo renewed his call on North Korea to return to the negotiating table Thursday, arguing that full denuclearization is the best thing it can do for the country and its people.

In an interview with U.S. cable network Fox News, the secretary of state said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un understands the needs of his country.

"We then hope we can one day again have a serious conversation to convince Chairman Kim that the best thing to do for the people of North Korea is to fully denuclearize and that will lead to a brighter future for the North Korean people," Pompeo said, according to a transcript of his interview released by the state department.

N. Korea showing no sign of 'lashing out' in near future: USFK chief

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is not showing any signs of provocation, such as rolling out a new strategic weapons system, the head of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Thursday, while insisting the impoverished North may be too caught up in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and the amplified effects of sanctions.

"There's people suggesting that perhaps there'll be a rollout of a new weapons system. Ah, Maybe. But we're not seeing any indications right now, any sort of lashing out," USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said in a webinar hosted by Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).

His remark comes amid widespread speculation that the North may unveil a new weapons system in the near future to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers' Party on Oct. 10.

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