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1/10/2018 6:16 am  #1

For a Mad Man, Rocketman is Pretty Smart

Say what you want about the mental state of Mr. Kim, North Korea has played a weak hand very well. They are holding talks with SK while America sits on the sidelines. They have declared, as a condition of talks, that the nuclear issue is off limits, and SK has complied.
They are getting praise from China, Japan, and the Russians.
So much for the US strategy of further isolating NK.

And, it looks like the US will have to acknowledge them as a nuclear power if they ever want to join the talks.
Well played, sir.

North Korea agrees to send athletes to Winter Olympics, South says

SEOUL — North Korea’s representatives assured the South Korean government Tuesday that the country’s “cutting-edge” nuclear weapons are aimed only at the United States, not at its neighbors, as they struck a deal to send athletes to next month’s Winter Olympics and to reopen a military hotline.

The sobering words underscored how, despite the rare agreement with the South, Pyongyang continues to assert its right to fend off the United States with nuclear arms.

Nevertheless, South Korea achieved its immediate goal of bringing North Korean athletes to compete in what Seoul has dubbed the “peace games.” South Korean officials portrayed this agreement as a first step in a significant improvement in bilateral relations. The question, analysts said, is whether the North will pursue this opening with any sincerity.

South Korea signaled that it was willing to suspend some of its direct sanctions on North Korea to facilitate a Northern delegation’s travel to the Olympics, which will open Feb. 9 in the South’s PyeongChang region.

Seoul will have to move carefully to avoid alienating the Trump administration, which has been leading a campaign of “maximum pressure” to force North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs.

 North Korean delegation leader Ri Son Kwon, center, is greeted by South Korean officials after crossing the border to attend a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone on Tuesday. (AP)
But in Washington, the State Department applauded the talks Tuesday and said South Korea has assured the United States that North Korea’s participation in the Olympics will not violate any U.N. sanctions.

The day-long talks at the Panmunjom truce village on the border between the two Koreas led to the unusual scene of a delegation of smiling North Korean men in black suits walking across the concrete curb that divides North from South — the same line that a North Korean soldier crossed at the end of last year, as other Northern soldiers shot at him.

After the talks, Ri Son Kwon, the North’s previously gregarious chief representative, chastised the South Korean media for reporting that the discussions had included denuclearization as a subject. That was not on the table, he said.

“All our cutting-edge weapons, including our hydrogen bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles, are not targeting our Korean brothers, China or Russia but the United States,” Ri said, according to pool reports from inside the room.

“If we begin talking about these issues, then today’s good results might be reduced to nothing,” he warned.

[Can these two North Korean ice skaters help bring about a diplomatic thaw?]

Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea’s unification minister and its chief delegate to the talks, said that despite the quibbles, Tuesday’s discussions were positive and could pave the way for progress on the nuclear issue. “The most important spirit of the inter-Korean talks is mutual respect,” he said.

The talks, the first in more than two years, have the backing of both Korean leaders. In his New Year’s address, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un wished his “compatriots of the same blood” success for the Games.

“The talks are important because they are a positive indicator for bilateral relations,” said Alison Evans, a Korea expert at IHS Markit, a consulting firm.

The governments in Beijing and Tokyo both welcomed the agreement as a positive step.

Steve Goldstein, the undersecretary for public diplomacy at the State Department, said the United States played no role in the talks beyond a phone call between President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sat in on. He said no topics were off limits, and the United States did not seek to have South Korea discourage North Korea from participating even though the administration has sought to further isolate the regime through sanctions.

Last edited by Goose (1/10/2018 6:37 am)

"On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

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