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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

All News 16:00 August 06, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

N. Korea's food shortage to worsen in H2: U.N. report

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's food security situation is expected to deteriorate in the next four months, a U.N. report has said, citing limited humanitarian access and trade disruptions as key factors leading to the country's widening food gap.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) forecast in a joint report released Friday that the North is expected to be facing a food shortage of around 860,000 tons this year, "which is equivalent to approximately 2.3 months' worth of food use."

"Concerns are mounting over the food security situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, due to strained access and the potential impact of trade limitations, which may lead to food gaps," the report on the August to November outlook said, referring to the North by its official name.

14 U.S. lawmakers endorse bill on declaration of official end to Korean War

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Yonhap) -- More than a dozen U.S. lawmakers have signed a bill seeking to formally end the Korean War and establish liaison offices between the United States and North Korea, an activist group said Friday.

Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA) signed the bill, "Peace on the Korean Peninsula Act," this week, becoming the 14th U.S. lawmaker to do so, according to the Korean American Public Action Committee (KAPAC).

The bill, proposed by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), was submitted to the House of Representatives on May 20.

U.S. seizes Singapore-owned oil tanker for violating N. Korea sanctions

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. federal court on Friday decided to seize an oil tanker owned by a Singaporean national for violating U.S. and U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea that prohibit illicit deliveries of petroleum products to the North, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Citing court documents, the Justice Department said the tanker, M/T Courageous, had illicitly stopped transmitting information regarding its location between August and December 2019, during which satellite imagery showed it engaged in a ship-to-ship transfer of more than "US$1.5 million worth of oil" to a North Korean ship before traveling to the North Korean port of Nampo.

"Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016, the DPRK and individuals or entities that the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, has determined are involved in the facilitation of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are prohibited from engaging in transactions with U.S. persons or using the U.S. financial system," the department said in a press release.

Blinken to urge ASEAN members to fully implement U.N. sanctions on N. Korea: State Dept.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to call for full implementation of U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea when he meets with his counterparts from the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a State Department spokesman said Monday.

"During this week's meeting Secretary Blinken will ... reiterate U.S. positions on pressing regional issues, including calling on the Burmese junta to immediately end the violence and restore Burma to the path of democracy, supporting freedom of the seas in the South China Sea, improving resilience and transparency through the Mekong-U.S. partnership and urging ASEAN members to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions on the DPRK," the spokesman, Ned Price, said in a press briefing.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

Any decision on U.S.-S. Korea joint military drill will be result of coordination: Pentagon

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) -- Any decisions on military exercises between South Korea and the United States will be made jointly by the allies, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday, reiterating that their alliance remains strong.

John Kirby, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, also highlighted the U.S. commitment to the alliance and the joint security of the Korean Peninsula.

"We have security commitments on the peninsula, a treaty that requires us to be ready to help defend the Korean Peninsula against threats. That hasn't changed. It's ironclad," the spokesman said in a press briefing.

Blinken reaffirms U.S. commitment to denuclearization of Korean Peninsula

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored his country's commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a regional forum attended by the top diplomats of 17 other countries, including South Korea, the State Department said Wednesday.

The top U.S. diplomat also reaffirmed U.S. support for the countries in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

"He pledged continued U.S. support for a free and open Mekong subregion and reaffirmed U.S. commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the State Department said of Blinken's participation in the virtual East Asia Summit (EAS).

Strong U.S.-Korea alliance enables diplomatic engagement with N. Korea: Adm. Aquilino

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- The strong U.S.-South Korea alliance helps ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula while it also allows the allies to engage with the recalcitrant North with strength and confidence, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said Wednesday.

Adm. John Aquilino noted North Korea was "certainly a security challenge" that faces the U.S. in the region.

"The U.S.-ROK alliance is strong and ironclad. Our commitment with that treaty ally has been the foundation for peace and stability on the peninsula as we work towards a denuclearized peninsula as the common goal," the four-star admiral said in a virtual forum hosted by the Washington-based Aspen Institute think tank.

FM Chung restates commitment to resuming dialogue with N. Korea

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong has reiterated South Korea's commitment to resuming dialogue with North Korea during a regional forum, his office said Thursday, amid lingering uncertainty over the prospects of nuclear diplomacy with Pyongyang.

Chung stressed Seoul's steadfast focus on dialogue efforts during Wednesday's virtual ministerial session of the East Asia Summit (EAS), as the North's blunt warning against the planned South Korea-U.S. military exercise eclipsed the hopes for dialogue that reemerged after last week's restoration of inter-Korean communication lines.

This week, Chung is taking part in a series of multilateral gatherings led by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the ASEAN Regional Forum slated for Friday.

Top diplomats of S. Korea, U.S. agree on efforts for N.K. engagement in phone talks

SEOUL/WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed to make continued efforts to engage with North Korea and foster lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula during their phone talks Friday, the foreign ministry said.

The talks came after last week's restoration of inter-Korean communication channels fueled hopes for the resumption of nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, though growing optimism for dialogue was tempered by the North's warning that the planned South Korea-U.S. military exercise would cast clouds over inter-Korean relations.

"The minister and secretary agreed that the South and the U.S. would continue to make coordinated diplomatic efforts for substantive progress toward the goal of the complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula," the ministry said in a press release.

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