Thursday, November 21, 2019

US envoy to visit Bangkok to discuss N Korea nuclear row

Dec 12. 2017
Deputy Foreign Minister Veerasak Futrakul
Deputy Foreign Minister Veerasak Futrakul
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THE US special envoy for North Korea will probably meet Deputy Foreign Minister Veerasak Futrakul late this week to discuss denuclearisation, amid escalated tensions in the Korean Peninsula, according to diplomatic sources yesterday.

The US Embassy in Bangkok confirmed that Joseph Yun, special representative for North Korea policy, will visit Thailand tomorrow and Friday to add weight to the US campaign against North Korea’s latest missile test.

Yun’s agenda while in Bangkok is not officially settled. It is not known who he will meet besides Veerasak.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday did not directly mention Yun’s visit but reiterated that Thailand always follows United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“There has been no selling, no buying and no trading to the point that we can barely move,” Prayut said during his weekly press briefing.

His remarks also countered a recent report by a US-based think tank that Thailand is among 20 countries providing assistance for North Korean shipments. 

A source at the Commerce Ministry, meanwhile, said Thailand had strictly followed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on North Korea and if the US requested Thailand to impose sanctions beyond the UNSC resolution there needs to be further approval by the Thai government.

Released last Tuesday, a report from the Institute for Science and International Security says that 49 countries were found to commit acts in violation of sanctions designated in the UNSC resolutions.

Denying the report, Prayut stressed that Thailand has long ago stopped any North Korean shipments from landing in the Kingdom.Thailand had maintained a 45-year tie with North Korea but has toned it down following the Asean consensus to abide by the UNSC resolutions.

While restaurants operated by the North Korean government were functioning in Bangkok earlier this year, the trade value for the first nine months of this year is down to Bt52 million, a 94-per cent drop year-on-year.

The US has campaigned actively and aggressively for sanctions against North Korea.Announcing a series of successes on nuclear developments this year, North Korea recently tested a Hwasong-15, an advanced version of the intercontinental ballistic missile it launched in July. 

AFP reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Prayut in Bangkok in August. Tillerson’s goal was to push Thailand to shut down all North Korean business operations in Thailand and tone down diplomatic ties as much as possible.

At a meeting between Donald Trump and Prayut in October, the US president encouraged Thailand, as a regional Asia-Pacific country, to be firm against North Korea.

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