Warmbier’s parents blame N. Korea ‘evil regime’ in son’s death
Friday, March 1
WASHINGTON (AP) — The parents of an American college student who died after being detained in North Korea say Kim Jong Un (gihm jung oon) “and his evil regime” are responsible for his death.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier (WARM’-beer) rebuked President Donald Trump in a statement Friday. After meeting with Kim this week, Trump said he takes Kim “at his word” that Kim was unaware of alleged mistreatment of Otto Warmbier.
The Warmbiers say they remained silent during the Trump-Kim summit but “now we must speak out.”
They say “Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto” and for “unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity.” They said “no excuses or lavish praise can change that.”
Otto Warmbier died in June 2017 after being returned home in a vegetative state.
Undeterred by summit collapse, Moon vows closer North ties
By KIM TONG-HYUNG
Friday, March 1
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Friday his government plans to discuss with the United States the possibility of restarting joint inter-Korean economic projects to induce nuclear disarmament from North Korea.
Moon’s comments during a nationally televised speech came a day after a high-stakes nuclear summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed over what the Americans saw as excessive North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for limited disarmament steps.
North Korea insisted it had asked only for partial sanctions relief in exchange for shutting down its main nuclear complex. Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho also said Washington had wasted an opportunity that “may not come again” and the North’s position won’t change even if the United States offers to resume talks.
The breakdown is a setback for Moon, whose desire for closer relations between the Koreas hinges on a nuclear breakthrough between the United States and North Korea. While Moon has prioritized stabilizing relations with the North amid the larger nuclear negotiations, his dovish approach has caused disagreements with Washington, which sees economic pressure as its main leverage with Pyongyang.
“I vow to help usher in an era of a peace-driven economy on the Korean Peninsula,” said Moon, who preaches that South Korea should be in the “driver’s seat” in international efforts to deal with the North.
However, if the nuclear negotiations derail, Moon could potentially face a serious dilemma over whether to continue to engage with the North or join another U.S.-led pressure campaign against it.
In a speech in Seoul commemorating the anniversary of a 1919 Korean uprising against Japanese colonial rule, Moon made a nationalistic call for inter-Korean cooperation, which he says would drive progress in negotiations between the United States and North Korea.
Moon said he would “consult” with the United States on resuming operations at an inter-Korean factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and restarting South Korean tours to the North’s scenic Diamond Mountain resort. It’s impossible for Seoul to resume the projects under the current U.S.-led sanctions against the North. Moon also proposed the creation of a joint economic committee between the Koreas aimed at developing the North’s crippled economy, which he said would be possible with progress in the North’s denuclearization.
“We will closely communicate and cooperate with the United States and North Korea so as to help their talks reach a complete settlement by any means possible,” he said. “Progress in inter-Korean relations will lead to the normalization of North Korea’s relations with the United States and Japan, expanding into a new order of peace and security in Northeast Asia.”
While Moon had been expected to make ambitious new proposals for engagement with the North while marking the centennial of an admired historical event, his speech ended without major announcements or fresh plans on inter-Korean economic activities. Moon spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom did not give a definite answer when asked whether the breakdown of the Hanoi summit forced Moon to modify his proposals.
Moon said the United States and North Korea still made “meaningful progress” in Hanoi as conversations between Trump and Kim Jong Un would have “enhanced mutual understanding and built more trust.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Manila, Philippines, on Friday that the North Koreans demanded “full” sanctions relief in talks in Hanoi, contradicting Ri, who said the North asked only for partial relief.
“These are global demands for the denuclearization of North Korea and we are anxious to get back to the table so we can continue the conversation that will ultimately lead to peace and stability and a better life for the North Korean people and a lower threat, a denuclearized North Korea,” Pompeo told reporters.
There had been hopes in Seoul that Trump and Kim would reach a deal that meaningfully reduces North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability and softens sanctions against Pyongyang, which would give Moon more room to push his ambitious ideas on inter-Korean engagement. Aside of restarting the Kaesong factory park and South Korean tours to Diamond Mountain, the Koreas also aspire to reconnect their railways and roads.
Moon has desperately tried to maintain an impression that things are headed toward the North’s denuclearization, trying to keep hard-liners in Washington at bay and a positive atmosphere of dialogue alive. That could become much harder to do if the United States and North Korea struggle to put their negotiations back on track and amid growing doubts on whether Kim would ever voluntarily deal away an arsenal he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival.
While Moon focuses predominantly on North Korea issues, critics say huge problems are being mishandled at home, including a decaying job market, falling birth rates and deep age, gender and political divides. Hwang Kyo-ahn, former South Korean prime minister and leader of the conservative Liberty Korean Party, criticized Moon for overselling a “rosy fantasy” on the North’s denuclearization and that people’s hopes are now turning into uneasiness.
“South Korea loses the most from the Hanoi summit ending without agreement,” said Alison Evans, an analyst from IHS Markit. “Without progress on North Korea, Moon’s domestic agenda becomes his only metric of success for voters, who have already criticized his administration for failing to deliver on economic metrics such as unemployment.”
Moon had hoped to follow the Trump-Kim meeting with his own fourth summit with Kim, preferably in Seoul, a prospect that now looks murkier.
Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.
Follow all of AP’s summit coverage: https://apnews.com/Trump-KimSummit
Trump and Kim, Act II
by Mel Gurtov
Trump was correct to describe denuclearization last June as a lengthy “process” that one summit meeting could not achieve. However, the second summit, in Hanoi at the end of February 2019, again showed that personal diplomacy divorced from an engagement process that incorporates flexibility and give-and-take raises the risk of failure. The Hanoi summit ended early without agreement, as Trump was unwilling to end sanctions in return for the closing of North Korea’s main (but not only) nuclear enrichment plant at Yongbyon. As it is, Trump played with a weak hand: Besieged by investigations at home, and the riveting public testimony of Michael Cohen that coincided with the summit, Trump may have had less maneuvering room than usual to make a deal. (Trump acknowledged the impact, saying: “I think having a fake hearing like that and having it in the middle of this very important summit is really a terrible thing.”)
Had a better process preceded the summit, agreement might have been possible step-by-step, including time points for establishing diplomatic relations, freezing or reducing North Korea’s nuclear weapons in a verifiable way, and gradually easing US and South Korean sanctions. Indeed, early reports indicate that Kim might have been open to establishing a US liaison office in Pyongyang.
In short, there is no objective reason why these talks should have failed. The North Koreans believed that after the first summit in Singapore, they had taken the first steps in confidence building, enough to justify an end to sanctions, and some US analysts agreed. But Trump’s hard-line advisers, wedded to the demand for “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” (CVID), saw to it that the administration added to sanctions and rejected South Korean proposals for easing their own. (“They do nothing without our approval,” said Trump) In a sense, Pompeo and Bolton may have sabotaged the talks.
On the eve of the second summit, Donald Trump said: “I don’t want to rush anybody. I just don’t want testing. As long as there is no testing, we’re happy.” Well, Kim made him happy; the North’s nuclear weapons and missile testing moratorium will continue. But that left Kim’s entire bomb and missile inventory intact, allowed for accumulation of more fissile material, and also accepted that North Korea will continue research and development of nuclear weapons and missiles of various ranges. Testing, of course, is essential to determining the reliability of weapons, but for now, as Kim has said, the DPRK is confident it has the nuclear and missile strength it needs.
Hard to say where we go from here. Both sides have adopted an all-or-nothing approach, which probably means that while the North Koreans forego weapons tests, they will continue to refine the weapons they have and the Americans will persist with sanctions that are not working and that the Russians and Chinese are undermining. Denuclearization, however understood, is more remote than ever.
Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.
Trump-Kim summit ends with no deal, but diplomacy is a long process
February 28, 2019
Author: Tizoc Chavez, Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Vanderbilt University
Disclosure statement: Tizoc Chavez does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Vanderbilt University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
A second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended on Feb. 28 with no deal on limiting North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
“We had to walk away from that,” the president said.
The two leaders split over both the scope and pace of dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Kim offered partial steps to curb his nuclear program in exchange for the complete lifting of sanctions by the United States. This was more than Trump was willing to give for only incremental progress.
I study the personal diplomacy of world leaders, which is when heads of state and government directly engage through letters, phone calls and face-to-face meetings.
Though the summit broke up with no deal, based on my knowledge of past U.S. presidential summits, I know that talks that end without an agreement can still be important in laying the foundation for future progress.
Diplomacy is a long and laborious process. And even with preparation, summits aren’t guaranteed to succeed.
Reagan and Gorbachev
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, to discuss arms control. During the talks, the two men proposed something radical: Rather than simply limit intermediate-range nuclear missiles, they would eliminate all nuclear weapons.
But they disagreed over Reagan’s plan for a missile defense system in space, known as the Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars. Gorbachev wanted research on the program relegated to the laboratory. Reagan refused.
As the two men departed, their slumped shoulders and despondent expressions made their failure clear for all to see. The world’s print and television media captured the somber men as they went their separate ways.
But the situation wasn’t as dire as the post-summit body language suggested. Gorbachev actually came away from the meeting with optimism, believing that he and Reagan now had a firmer understanding of each other’s positions.
And though Reagan was initially disappointed, his advisers, including Secretary of State George Shultz, came to have a more positive outlook on the summit, helping Reagan see that the Soviets had moved closer to U.S. positions than ever before and truly wanted to make a deal.
It would take many more months of negotiations, but in December 1987 Reagan welcomed Gorbachev to Washington to sign an agreement eliminating both nation’s arsenals of intermediate-range nuclear weapons.
The deal didn’t go as far as the proposal in Reykjavik to abolish all nuclear weapons. But it was more than most imagined possible at the start of Reagan’s presidency, when in his first press conference he questioned the Soviets’ morality, saying that they “reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat” to achieve their objectives.
Still a chance of progress
As Reagan’s experience shows, evaluating the second Trump-Kim summit will depend on what happens in the coming months.
At a Feb. 28 press conference, Trump said Kim “has a certain vision and it’s not exactly our vision but it’s a lot closer than it was a year ago.” And he continued to express confidence in Kim: “He’s quite a guy and quite a character. And I think our relationship is very strong.”
Though the summit didn’t have an ideal ending, the alternatives could be worse. As one expert on North Korea’s nuclear program said, a total breakdown of the Trump-Kim relationship would have been the worst-case scenario. Or, as some foreign policy analysts feared, the president might have agreed to a deal just to get a “win” to distract from his domestic troubles.
Summits have the potential to go wrong. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy met with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna. The result was worsening relations and heightened Cold War tensions.
When President Richard Nixon met with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev at the height of the Watergate scandal, many worried the president might make harmful concessions simply so he could claim “success” and redirect the nation’s attention. This didn’t happen, but it’s a reminder of the potential dangers involved in personal diplomacy.
Trump appears to have avoided both those scenarios.
Even without a deal, both sides seem committed to at least continue talking. And if negotiations continue at lower diplomatic levels and Kim refrains from conducting missile and nuclear tests (as Trump said he promised), it’s possible that the two sides might come to a future agreement. Then perhaps the Hanoi summit will go down in history as an important stepping-stone.
Personal relationships versus national interests
The latest Trump-Kim summit shows that though leaders engage in personal diplomacy, what often determines success isn’t the personal element.
Personal chemistry between leaders can be beneficial and help lead to greater understanding. It helped Reagan and Gorbachev in their search for an arms control agreement, allowing them to build trust and assess each other’s sincerity.
But as Nixon noted, though a personal bond with another leader might improve the chances of settling disputes, at the end of the day, “a smile or a handshake or an exchange of toasts or gifts or visits will not by themselves have effect where vital interests are concerned and where there are great differences.”
Eurotunnel withdraws suit after $43 million Brexit deal
By DANICA KIRKA
Friday, March 1
LONDON (AP) — The U.K. government agreed Friday to pay 33 million pounds ($43 million) to settle a lawsuit that claimed it improperly awarded contracts to run extra ferry services in the event that Britain leaves the European Union without an agreement on future relations.
Eurotunnel filed the suit after the government announced three contracts to provide additional ferry capacity for trucks, including one with a company that had no ships. Eurotunnel alleged it had been unfairly excluded from bidding on contracts totaling 108 million pounds.
The settlement agreement requires Eurotunnel to improve security and traffic flow at the border, helping to speed the flow of urgent shipments, as well as the goods needed by British businesses, the government said.
“While it is disappointing that Eurotunnel chose to take legal action on contracts in place to ensure the smooth supply of vital medicines, I am pleased that this agreement will ensure the Channel Tunnel is ready for a post-Brexit world,” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said in a statement announcing the settlement.
Eurotunnel said the agreement “enables the development of infrastructure, security and border measures that will guarantee the flow of vehicles carrying urgent and vital goods.”
Despite allegations that the government was stalling the release of information related to the bidding process, Theresa May’s Downing Street office said that settling allowed the government to concentrate on the job of contingency planning in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The settlement comes amid criticism of Grayling for his handling of a number of issues, including the ferry contracts and widespread travel delays on Britain’s train network.
The government defended Grayling, saying he is “leading his department through some very important projects and work.”
Meg Hillier, the Public Accounts Committee chair, took a dim view of the situation.
“This was an extraordinary procurement which, as this 33 million pound settlement makes clear, is now unravelling at the taxpayers’ expense,” Hillier, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, said in a statement. “We will (be) pushing the Department for Transport for clear answers on the circumstances surrounding this agreement with Eurotunnel when it gives evidence to our committee next week.”
Opinion: Brexit Matters to the U.S.
By Desmond Lachman
It is tempting for the United States and for markets to dismiss the United Kingdom’s Brexit problem as that affecting a spent imperial power with little relevance to the United States and global economies. However, that would be a grave mistake.
Not only is the Brexit crisis already casting a dark economic cloud over the U.K., the world’s fifth largest economy. It is also occurring in the context of meaningful difficulties in Europe’s other major economies. As such, a deepening in the Brexit crisis has the real potential to spill over from the United Kingdom to the rest of Europe and to reach our shores.
With the clock ticking down toward the March 29 end-period of the Brexit two-year negotiating period, there remains little prospect that British Prime Minister Theresa May will soon get parliamentary approval for her Brexit deal. This would seem to be particularly the case considering that Brussels has indicated that it is unwilling to make any substantive changes to that deal, which was overwhelmingly defeated in the U.K. Parliament last month.
Under intense pressure from within her party to avoid a no-deal Brexit, May has now opened the door to requesting a short extension of the two-year negotiating period. This almost certainly precludes the risk that the U.K. will crash out of Europe without a deal March 29. However, since a short extension would do nothing to resolve Brexit’s underlying political divisions, it does not preclude the possibility of a hard Brexit once the proposed short extension would expire.
According to most impartial observers, including the Bank of England, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a no-deal Brexit would deliver a real body blow to the U.K. economy and more than likely tip it into recession. It would do so because the U.K.’s global supply chains would be disrupted and because both domestic and foreign investors would take fright about the kingdom’s diminished access to Europe’s Single Market, which currently buys around half of the U.K.’s exports.
Heightening the prospect that the U.K.’s economic decline would accelerate in the event of a no-deal Brexit is the fact that major companies like Honda and Dyson have now indicated their intention to relocate their U.K. activities abroad so as to ensure continued smooth access to Europe’s Single Market in a post-Brexit world.
The risk of a hard-Brexit has already had an adverse effect on the U.K. economy. In the two and a half years since the June 2016 Brexit referendum, the U.K. has gone from being the fastest- to being the slowest-growing economy among the G-7 countries. Over the period, British politics has fractured and there has been a marked decline in the pound.
Kicking the can down the road by requesting a short extension of the negotiating time frame will only prolong the period of investor uncertainty to the detriment of the U.K. economy. It will do little to restore order to U.K. politics nor will it eliminate the risk that at the end of new negotiating term the U.K. will crash out of Europe.
A stumbling of the U.K. economy is the last thing that an already challenged European economy now needs. The German economy is showing clear signs of sputtering in response to a slowing in the Chinese economy and fears of U.S. tariffs on Europe’s automobile exports. Meanwhile, the French economy is being buffeted by the rise of the Yellow Vest Movement.
Worse yet, a highly indebted Italy has now again slipped into recession for the third time in the past decade as investor confidence is being undermined by its populist government’s seeming disregard of the need for disciplined budget policies. This raises the real risk that a further European economic setback could trigger another and more painful round of the European sovereign debt crisis in a country 10 times the size of Greece.
Particularly at a time of considerable global financial market fragility, it would seem to be in the U.S. economic interest to promote a healthy U.K. and European economy. The last thing the world economy now needs is to have the U.K. crashing out of Europe in a disorderly fashion. It is hoped the Trump administration is fully aware of the risks to the U.S. and global economies associated with a hard Brexit and will do whatever it can to help prevent such an eventuality.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Desmond Lachman is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He was formerly a deputy director in the International Monetary Fund’s Policy Development and Review Department and the chief emerging market economic strategist at Salomon Smith Barney. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.