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NUKEWARS
Negotiating with North Korea a waste of time: Trump
By Dave Clark
Washington (AFP) Oct 1, 2017


Moscow holds 'consultations' with NKorea diplomat
Moscow (AFP) Sept 29, 2017 - Moscow's Russian foreign ministry said it invited a North Korean diplomat for "consultations" on Friday, as tensions mount between Pyongyang and Washington.

Choe Son-hui, director-general of the North American section of North Korea's foreign ministry, met with Russia's ambassador-at-large Oleg Burmistrov.

The foreign ministry statement described the discussion as "a detailed exchange of views on the situation on the Korean peninsula."

Choe also met with Russian vice foreign minister Igor Morgulov, the foreign ministry said.

The statement added that "the Russian side confirmed its willingness (to aid) joint efforts to find a solution ...through peaceful and political-diplomatic means" as Washington and Pyongyang ramp up a war of words over the latter's nuclear testing programme.

US President Donald Trump last week used a UN address to threaten to "totally destroy" North Korea and declared the hermit state's leader Kim Jong-Un, whom he dubbed "rocket Man," to be on a "suicide mission".

Kim responded that Trump was "mentally deranged" and a "dotard" who would "pay dearly" for his threats.

After the bellicose exchanges, Pyongyang then accused Washington last Monday of declaring war.

Warning of a potential catastrophe if the tensions are ratcheted up any further, Russia has been pushing hard for dialogue to defuse the crisis.

Italy orders N. Korea ambassador home over missiles
Rome (AFP) Oct 1, 2017 - Italy has ordered North Korea's incoming new ambassador to leave the country in a protest over Kim Jong-Un's missile launches and nuclear tests.

Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano announced the move in an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica, published on Sunday.

"We have taken the firm decision to interrupt the accreditation procedure. The ambassador will have to leave the country," Alfano said.

"We want to make Pyongyang understand that isolation is inevitable if it does not change course."

Alfano stressed however that Italy was not breaking off diplomatic relations, "because it can always be useful to maintain a channel of communications."

North Korea nominated long-serving foreign ministry official Mun Jong-Nam as its new ambassador to Rome in July, filling a post that had been vacant for over a year, according to South Korean reports. The diplomat had started working in Rome but not completed his registration with the Italian authorities.

The Italian move came as the international community seeks to ratchet up pressure on Kim's regime to give up its nuclear weapons, with China notably agreeing to limit oil exports to and textile imports to its neighbour from Sunday.

US President Donald Trump warned Sunday that negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program would be a waste of time, after it emerged that Washington has channels of contact with Pyongyang.

Only hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed that US officials are in exploratory contact with their North Korean counterparts, Trump appeared to undercut his top diplomat by declaring on Twitter that any talks would be futile.

"I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man," Trump said, using the insulting nickname he has tried to pin on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

"Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!"

Speaking on Saturday after talks with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Tillerson said that US officials have open channels of communication with North Korea despite an escalating war of words between their respective leaders.

- 'Stay tuned' -

Asked how he could know whether the North would even contemplate coming to the table to negotiate away its growing nuclear arsenal, Tillerson told reporters in Beijing: "We are probing, so stay tuned."

"We have lines of communication with Pyongyang. We're not in a dark situation, a blackout, we have a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang," he said. "We can talk to them, we do talk to them."

But later, after the secretary began his flight home, the State Department issued a statement to clarify that North Korea has "shown no indication that they are interested in or are ready for talks regarding denuclearization."

And on Sunday, the department's spokeswoman Heather Nauert and Tillerson's chief public affairs adviser R.C. Hammond launched their own series of tweets in what appeared to be an attempt to harmonize the mixed messages.

"DPRK will not obtain a nuclear capability. Whether through diplomacy or force is up to the regime," Nauert wrote, before tagging the president in her second message: "Diplomatic channels are open for #KimJongUn for now. They won't be open forever @StateDept @potus."

Hammond, meanwhile, said Trump's tweets should be interpreted not as a rebuke to Tillerson but as a message to Kim that time is running out for a diplomatic solution.

"Channels have been open for months. They've been unused and cooling for months," he said in one tweet.

"The president just sent a clear message to NK: show up at the diplomatic table before the invitation gets cold," he added in another.

- 'Suicide mission' -

In a recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if it threatens the US or any of its allies, deriding Kim as "Rocket Man" and warning he is on a "suicide mission."

Kim responded by calling Trump a "mentally deranged dotard."

Trump's administration has also been at the forefront of a drive to impose a series of sanctions against North Korea in response to its sixth nuclear test -- the largest yet -- and the firing of two missiles over Japan.

North Korea's main economic partner China has signed up to the sanctions, including restrictions on imports, as has Russia.

But, uneasy over Trump's bellicose tone, both countries have appealed to the United States to have talks with North Korea, and Tillerson's revelation was welcomed on Sunday by Germany.

"This is exactly the right course and a courageous step," German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. "North Korea would be well advised to take this offer of talks seriously."

Gabriel also urged the US to have dialogue with Iran over a nuclear accord which Trump appears on the verge of scrapping, adding that such a move "would undermine the credibility of the offer to North Korea."

Trump has previously kept the door open to possible talks with North Korea.

In a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the UN meeting last month, Trump responded "Why not?" when asked whether there could be talks.

But his administration has also been urging allies to ratchet up the pressure on Kim's regime by isolating it diplomatically.

It emerged on Sunday that Italy has ordered North Korea's incoming new ambassador to leave the country in a protest over Kim's missile launches and nuclear tests.

"We have taken the firm decision to interrupt the accreditation procedure. The ambassador will have to leave the country," Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said in an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica.

"We want to make Pyongyang understand that isolation is inevitable if it does not change course."

NUKEWARS
N. Korean firms in China ordered to close by January
Beijing (AFP) Sept 28, 2017
China said Thursday North Korean companies operating in the country will have to shut down by January as Beijing applies UN sanctions imposed following Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test. The commerce ministry said the companies, including joint ventures with Chinese firms, have 120 days to close from the date the United Nations resolution was adopted, September 11. The sanctions spare, on a ... read more

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