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US envoy hopeful for diplomacy with NKorea

Marines capacity for Korea amphibious landing lacking: general
The United States would be hard pressed to launch an amphibious landing in Korea if called to do so, US Marine Corps commandant Thursday, warning against a decline in the military's capability to fight from the sea. In discussing tensions with North Korea over its nuclear test last month, General James Conway told reporters that only between 10 to 15 percent of US Marine forces are trained in the type of amphibious warfare that could be required. "It concerns me greatly that there is always the possibility that we could be asked to do something like that that we're not trained to do," he said at the National Press Club. "Today we have the capacity to put two Marine expeditionnary brigades to sea. That's two regiments across the beach. That's not a lot of people when you're talking about invading another nation," he added. A Marine expeditionary brigade amounts to about 15,000 men, according to the Defense Department. By contrast, Pyongyang's highly militarized regime has a one million man army at its disposal. The Marine Corps last major amphibious invasion was during the 1950-53 Korean war when the 1st Marine Division landed at Inchon in 1950 to spearhead a counter-offensive against a North Korean invasion of South Korea. Conway warned against the Pentagon's budget cuts -- which has focused on reducing its conventional weaponry -- slashing Marine training in this arena, noting the United States "could lose its amphibious capability."

China calls for 'balanced' UN resolution on NKorea
China called Thursday for an "appropriate and balanced" UN resolution against North Korea for its recent nuclear test and missile launches after a draft was submitted to the Security Council. "We always believe that the Security Council should pass an appropriate and balanced resolution which is conducive to promoting the denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters. He added the resolution should help "safeguard peace and stability in northeast Asia," and said China would continue to make efforts in that regard. Major powers at the United Nations, including China, agreed Wednesday on a draft resolution that includes expanded sanctions on North Korea, such as tougher cargo inspections and a tighter arms embargo. The compromise draft was worked out following two weeks of bargaining by envoys of seven nations -- the five permanent members of the Security Council, and Japan and South Korea -- and has been presented to other council members. It is widely expected to be endorsed at a vote by the end of the week. China is North Korea's main ally, and has always favoured cautious diplomacy with Pyongyang, wary of any moves that could push the regime to collapse and potentially send millions of refugees streaming over its border. But analysts say it is finding it harder to defend the isolated regime as it assumes a greater role in world affairs, particularly after Pyongyang's recent test, missile launches and renunciation of a 1953 truce that ended the Korean War. Qin also said that South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator had spoken to his counterpart Wu Dawei in Beijing Tuesday, and the two agreed to push towards resuming six-nation talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear programme. The North has abandoned the talks, that also include South Korea, China, the United States, Japan and Russia. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 11, 2009
The US envoy on North Korea voiced hope Thursday for a diplomatic solution with the communist state and predicted it would eventually return to the table despite an escalating nuclear showdown.

Special envoy Stephen Bosworth said the United States was committed to diplomacy even as the UN Security Council moved to expand sanctions on impoverished North Korea over its nuclear test last month.

Bosworth told a Senate hearing that the United States was using a variety of tools with North Korea, ranging from sanctions to diplomatic engagement -- "if North Korea shows seriousness of purpose."

"The United States and our allies and partners in the region will need to take the necessary steps to assure our security in the face of this growing threat," Bosworth told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But he added: "In the interest of all concerned, we very much hope that North Korea will choose the path of diplomacy rather than confrontation," he said.

He said the United States had no hostility toward North Korea -- as is frequently charged by Pyongyang to justify building its "nuclear deterrent."

"As we have stated repeatedly, the United States has no hostile intent toward the people of North Korea nor are we threatening to change the North Korean regime through force," he said.

Bosworth said the ultimate goal of President Barack Obama's administration was the "verifiable denuclearization" of North Korea. He renewed US insistence not to recognize Pyongyang as a nuclear weapons state.

North Korea last month tested a nuclear bomb, heightening a showdown after in April testing a long-range missile and withdrawing from a US-backed six-nation denuclearization deal.

But Bosworth said he was hopeful for a resumption of the six-party talks, which involved China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States.

"There is no evidence they are prepared to do that now but I believe they will eventually come back to the table," Bosworth said.

Bosworth said the United States eventually hoped to negotiate denuclearization measures with North Korea that are "more irreversible," saying that previous agreements were too easy to undo.

Former president George W. Bush had held out hope into his last days of office for a breakthrough with Pyongyang.

Despite criticism from Japan some conservatives in his Republican Party, Bush removed North Korea from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, a longtime demand of Pyongyang because it paves the way for US aid and loans from multilateral lenders.

Bosworth hinted that the Obama administration was not looking to put North Korea back on the list.

"The secretary of state is only authorized to make a designation based on a determination that the government of a given country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism," Bosworth said.

"Now, I can say, unequivocally, we will follow the provisions of that law completely," he said.

He was facing questions from Republican Senator Jim DeMint, who said that putting North Korea back on the list was one of the few ways to pressure it.

"It makes absolutely no sense to continue with this, and I think it basically amplifies a growing sense that Americans are a paper tiger, full of talk and no action," DeMint said.

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US should move quickly to free journalists in NKorea: expert
Seoul (AFP) June 9, 2009
The United States should move quickly to negotiate the release of two American journalists sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment in North Korea, a South Korean expert said Tuesday. The North's Central Court Monday sentenced TV reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee to "reform through labour" for what state media called an illegal border crossing and an unspecified "grave crime." Under the ... read more

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