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NUKEWARS
South Korean president lobbies US leaders on North Korea policy
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 29, 2017


S. Korea to offer North treaty for denuclearisation: minister
Seoul (AFP) June 29, 2017 - South Korea's new government will seek to sign a peace treaty with the North if it abandons its nuclear weapons, a minister said Thursday.

Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-Sung's comments came hours before South Korea's new leader Moon Jae-In -- who backs engagement with Pyongyang -- was set to hold his first summit with US President Donald Trump, with the North's growing nuclear and missile threats casting a long shadow.

The two Koreas are still technically at war because a peace treaty was never agreed to replace the 1953 armistice that ended the conflict on the peninsula.

The US -- the South's security guarantor -- has 28,500 troops stationed in the country to protect it from its neighbour, and a treaty could entail their withdrawal, which has long been demanded by Pyongyang.

"We have to get over the current unstable system of armistice and put an end to the war on the Korean peninsula that has not yet ended," Chun said in a keynote speech at a seminar.

But a treaty could only be signed "at the stage of complete denuclearisation of the North", he added at the event organised by the Yonhap news agency.

The previous conservative governments of ousted president Park Geun-Hye and her predecessor Lee Myung-Bak shied away from referring to a peace treaty.

Signing a peace treaty with the United States used to be the North's standing demand in return for dismantling its nuclear programmes.

But it is unclear if Pyongyang still holds that view, with the isolated regime saying it will never give up nuclear weapons as it denounces the "hostile" US policy towards it.

On his plane to Washington, Moon told journalists Wednesday that the North should refrain from carrying out further tests and promise a nuclear freeze before dialogue could happen, while Seoul and Washington should consider what they could offer in return.

"A nuclear freeze is the entrance to dialogue and a complete dismantlement of nuclear programmes will be the exit of the dialogue," Moon was quoted as saying by news reports.

"Together with the nuclear dismantlement would come the establishment of a peace system on the Korean peninsula", Moon said, in an apparent reference to a treaty.

South Korea's new President Moon Jae-In lobbied US leaders on Thursday to back his policy of engagement with North Korea, as the Trump administration vowed to increase pressure on Pyongyang over its nuclear program.

On his first overseas trip since his landslide election victory this month, Moon met with Congressional leaders ahead of a dinner with his counterpart Donald Trump.

The Trump administration has been trying to isolate the North Korean regime following a series of missile tests, including by persuading China -- Pyongyang's main diplomatic ally -- to help bring Kim Jong-Un into line.

But speaking on board his flight to the United States on Wednesday, Moon said Seoul and Washington should offer concessions to Pyongyang if it complies with their demands, according to multiple South Korean reports.

"Without rewarding North Korea for its bad actions, South Korea and the United States should closely consult what they may give the North in return for a nuclear freeze," he said.

"A nuclear freeze is a gate to dialogue and the exit of the dialogue is a complete nuclear dismantlement," he added.

Moon met Thursday with House Speaker Paul Ryan and top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi in an ornate room in the US Capitol, with Ryan hailing "strong" bilateral ties but only briefly addressing security issues on the Korean peninsula before reporters were ushered out.

"We have shared concerns such as the threats posed to both of our nations from North Korea," Ryan told Moon.

The South Korean president responded by saying that when it comes to humanitarian issues, "we must cross boundaries and all party lines and all try to unite together as one."

Moon also met with US senators including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker.

Washington, South Korea's security guarantor, has more than 28,000 troops in the country to defend it from its communist neighbor, which has been intensifying missile tests -- including five since Moon's inauguration.

Pyongyang is seeking to develop nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that could reach the continental United States.

Trump has been pushing for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang to curb its nuclear ambitions and his administration has said military action was a possibility.

Washington and Seoul "share precisely the same goal, which is the complete dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs," a senior US administration official said.

"That is the hard challenge that we have been wresting with for a couple of decades now."

Trump seeks to heap economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang "in order to change their calculus," the official said.

"Right now we see no evidence that they are seeking to reduce the threat from nuclear weapons or ballistic missile technology."

Also expected to be high on the agenda is a controversial US missile defense system that has been installed in South Korea to guard against missile threats from the North.

Though parts of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system are already in place, Moon suspended further deployment following a furious campaign of economic sanctions and diplomatic protests by Beijing.

NUKEWARS
Trump says N.Korea threat must be 'dealt with rapidly'
Washington (AFP) June 26, 2017
President Donald Trump called on Monday for the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and ballistic programs to be "rapidly" tackled, as he thanked visiting Indian leader Narendra Modi for rallying behind sanctions on Pyongyang. "The North Korean regime is causing tremendous problems and is something that has to be dealt with, and probably dealt with rapidly," Trump told reporters in the Whi ... read more

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