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UN chief offers help in N.Korea diplomacy efforts
by Staff Writers
United Nations, United States (AFP) Aug 16, 2017

US urges LatAm powers to isolate N.Korea
Santiago (AFP) Aug 16, 2017 - US Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday called on Brazil, Mexico and other Latin American powers to break off economic and diplomatic ties with North Korea over Pyongyang's missile threats.

"We strongly urge Chile today and we urge Brazil and Mexico and Peru to break all diplomatic and commercial ties to North Korea," Pence told a press conference alongside Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

"We would especially welcome Chile reclassifying exports of Chilean wine... as a luxury good under current US sanctions to prevent North Korean from obtaining these commodities and converting them into hard currency that support the regime."

Chile's Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz later responded: "We respect the United States' request, but Chile will maintain its relations. They are distant relations because we have strictly applied all the sanctions decreed by the (UN) Security Council" against North Korea.

In 2015 North Korea imported $65,000 worth of Chilean wine, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, a US-based trade monitor.

Mexico sold it $45 million of oil and Peru exported $22 million of copper to North Korea that year, the observatory says.

Bachelet called on parties "to renew all the diplomatic efforts and conversations... to the North, South Korea, China, the Russian Federation -- in order to have a Korean peninsula without nuclear weapons."

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un on Tuesday backed off from a threat to fire missiles towards the US territory of Guam.

Pence was visiting Chile on the third stop of a tour of Latin American countries to boost trade ties and rally them over the crisis in Venezuela.

He said he had decided "to end our trip a little bit early tomorrow after we stop in Panama" on the last leg of the trip.

Pence may be needed back home.

In Washington, US President Donald Trump was in the eye of a political storm Wednesday after his remarks on unrest at rallies by white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville.

The White House said Trump and Pence will meet Friday with his national security team at Camp David, as he mulls whether or not to send more American troops to war-ravaged Afghanistan.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday offered his personal help to help reach a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear stand-off, saying it was time to "dial down rhetoric and dial up diplomacy."

"As tensions rise, so does the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculation or escalation and it is why it is so important to dial down rhetoric and to dial up diplomacy," Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

"My good offices are always available and I conveyed this message yesterday to the representatives of the six-party talks."

The UN chief said he "will remain in close contact with all concerned parties and stand ready to assist in any way."

Through the 2000s, the six-party talks bringing together North and South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States appeared to draw Pyongyang toward some level of outside nuclear monitoring and a possible slowdown in their program.

But the process collapsed in 2009.

Tensions were "at levels not seen in decades," said the UN chief, referencing the "enormous suffering" of the 1950-53 Korean War, which he said killed more than three million and had a civilian death rate higher than during World War II.

"We need to heed the lessons of history, not to repeat the mistakes," Guterres said.

On August 5 the UN Security Council unanimously backed a US-drafted resolution that significantly strengthened sanctions on North Korea, imposing a ban on exports aimed at depriving Pyongyang of $1 billion in annual revenue.

The resolution was "an opportunity for a diplomatic engagement and renewed dialogue to solve this crisis" with "many possible avenues for this dialogue" from bilateral to the six-party talks, Guterres said.

"The international community must send a clear, coherent message to the leadership of DPRK: fully comply with international obligations and work towards reopening communication channels and support efforts to deescalate the situation," he said.

"The solution to this crisis must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific to even contemplate."

Haunted by memories of war, Korean-US seniors on edge
New York (AFP) Aug 11, 2017
Memories of war haunt elderly Koreans in New York when they think about the gathering nuclear crisis between their homeland and the country they adopted in search of the American dream. Four million people perished in the 1950-53 Korean War between a US-backed South and China-backed North Korea. It was a bloodbath that ended in stalemate and today lies behind diplomatic panic, depressed mark ... read more

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