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US special envoy for N Korea to visit Thailand and Japan


THE UNITED STATES special envoy for North Korea policy will visit Japan and Thailand this week to discuss denuclearisation after Pyongyang’s latest ballistic missile test late last month.

Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun plans to meet government officials in both countries to discuss ways to strengthen the pressure campaign on North Korea.
The US State Department said on Friday said it looks forward to continuing its partnership with both nations so that North Korea will return to credible talks on denuclearisation.
On November 29, North Korea announced that it had successfully tested a Hwasong-15, an advanced version of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) it launched in July. The missile was reported to have flown for 50 minutes on a very high trajectory, reaching 4,500 kilometers above the Earth before coming down off the western coast of Japan, nearly 1,000 kilometres from its launch site.
Experts calculated that if the missile was launched in a normal trajectory it could have a range of 13,000km, far beyond Washington DC which is 11,024km from Pyongyang.
The US President’s national security adviser Lt General HR McMaster has said that the risk of war with North Korea has increased.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Yun said Washington was still be open to having dialogue with North Korea if it stopped its weapons testing and stated its willingness to hold talks.
“So far, I can report no real progress on diplomatic engagement,” he was quoted as saying by The Korea Herald, noting that he has spent a lot of time talking to North Korean officials through his own channel.
“So really, when there is no progress in diplomatic engagement despite us having reached out, there is no choice but continued pressure policies,” he said, referring to economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation.
It was not clear what specific proposals Yun would raise with allies in East and Southeast Asia.
Thailand has denounced the ICBM test, which has once again heightened tension in the region and threatened international peace and security. The test is a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and will only result in further isolation of North Korea, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Bangkok government has strongly urged Pyongyang to cease all provocative actions and respect the relevant UNSC Resolutions and return to dialogue, according to the ministry’s statement.
Washington reportedly put pressure on the Thai military government to impose tough sanctions against the regime in Pyongyang.
A source at the foreign ministry said Thailand has strictly complied with the relevant UNSC resolutions and has reported its enforcement and updates to the UN.
The action included suspension of permits on Air Koryo flights to Thailand, prohibition of North Korean coal imports, and strict inspection of suspect vessels.
Trade between Thailand and North Korea has dropped substantially. During the first nine months of 2017, it amounted to US$1.61 million (Bt52 million), a 94-per cent drop from the same period of 2016, and a mere fraction of 0.0004 per cent of Thailand’s total trade. Thai companies no longer have investments in North Korea.
 

Published : December 09, 2017

By : SUPALAK GANJANAKHUNDEE THE SUNDAY NATION