IN TODAY’S REPORT:
2. US-ROK Military Exercises
3. Reunion of Separated Korean Families
4. Japanese Wives of DPRK Citizens
5. PRC-Taiwan Relations
6. Congressional Action on PRC
7. PRC-Russian Summit
8. Russian Portable Nuclear Devices
9. Russian Nuclear Disarmament
Reuters (“SRI LANKA FIRES ON NORTH KOREAN SHIP,” Colombo, 11/10/97) reported that Sri Lankan naval officials said that navy gunboats fired warning shots at a DPRK cargo vessel Monday after it failed to respond to requests to stop off the Sri Lankan eastern coast. A Sri Lankan navy officer stated, “We will send a boarding party and check whether the documents of the ship are genuine. It they are, we will release the vessel.” The ship was sailing to the south Indian port of Madras from Dubai, the officials said. The report noted that Sri Lankan air force planes last week destroyed an unspecified ship bringing arms for the rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil.
Reuters (“NORTH KOREA RAPS U.S. ON MILITARY EXERCISES,” Moscow, 11/08/97) reported that Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency on Saturday quoted an unnamed DPRK foreign ministry official as saying that US-ROK joint military exercises are “provocative military steps” at a time when the 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework is being properly implemented. “[The exercises] are working out a scenario in which a full-scale war is unleashed against the northern part of the Korean peninsula,” Tass quoted the official as saying. The DPRK official also said that relations with Japan had been showing signs of improvement, but US-Japan military exercises threatened to fan new mistrust between Japan and the DPRK. [Ed. note: See “US-Japan Military Exercises” in the US Section of the October 6 Daily Report.]
The Los Angeles Times (“REUNIONS SOUGHT OF KIN SEPARATED BY WAR FROM TIMES WIRE REPORTS,” Seoul, 11/08/97) reported that the ROK government said it has proposed to the DPRK that the Red Cross organizations in both nations discuss how to reunite separated families. A statement from the ROK Ministry of National Unification said that the ROK Red Cross suggested a meeting as soon as possible to discuss setting up a location for families to meet. [Ed. note: See “ROK-DPRK Red Cross Talks” in the ROK Section of the October 7 Daily Report].
The Los Angeles Times (“AFTER DECADES IN N. KOREA, WIVES RETURN TO JAPAN FOR VISIT,” Narita, Japan Sunday, 11/09/97), the Associated Press (“N. KOREA’S JAPANESE START REUNIONS,” Tokyo, 11/09/97), and the New York Times (Nicholas D. Kristof, “AFTER NORTH KOREA ISOLATION, JAPANESE WIVES VISIT HOMES,” Tokyo, 11/08/97) reported that 15 Japanese women living in the DPRK returned to their homeland Saturday for reunions with family members. One of the women, Toyoko Uda, was quoted by her friends as saying, “Life [in the DPRK] is stable. I am very happy. I am not regretting my life.” Another woman, Yoshie Arai, thanked the DPRK Workers Party for its “good work” in arranging the visit. The women are being accompanied by Japanese Red Cross officials. Meanwhile, a delegation from Japan’s ruling coalition was scheduled to leave for Pyongyang on Monday on a mission to bring about a resumption of talks on diplomatic normalization.
The Associated Press (“TAIWAN REASSERTS INDEPENDENCE,” Taipei, 11/08/97) reported that Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui told the Washington Post in an interview published Saturday that Taiwan is an independent and sovereign country. Lee stated, “[Our] people don’t agree that Taiwan is a province of China. Taiwan is Taiwan. … We are an independent, sovereign country.” He added, “We have our own reunification timetable. When China becomes free, democratic and has social justice — in that case, we will have unification.”
The Associated Press (“TAIWAN EXPLAINS INDEPENDENCE REMARK,” Taipei, 11/09/97) reported that Taiwan government spokesman David Lee on Sunday tried to clarify President Lee Teng-hui’s earlier remarks to the Washington Post. Spokesman Lee said that the president “never indicated any support for Taiwan’s independence.” He added, “There is no change in [government] policy.”
Reuters (“STATEMENT ABOUT INDEPENDENT TAIWAN CAUSES CONTROVERSY,” Beijing, 11/10/97) reported that PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang on Monday responded to Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui’s remarks. “There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inseparable part of China,” Tang said. He added, “We hope the Taiwan side will… do more things that will benefit the improvement and development of relations between the two sides.”
The Wall Street Journal (Eduardo Lachica, “CLINTON HOPES ANTI-CHINA BILLS PROVE TO BE LARGELY SYMBOLIC,” Washington, 11/10/97) reported that the US officials downplayed the significance of recent votes in the House of Representatives aimed against the PRC. An unnamed senior US State Department official said, “We should not read too much into these votes. We hope and believe that the Senate will not act on these bills.” The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is not expected to act until early next year on a Senate version of the House bills.
The Associated Press (Charles Hutzler, “YELTSIN MAKES THIRD TRIP TO BEIJING,” Beijing 11/10/97) and Reuters (“RUSSIA, CHINA PUT BORDER HOSTILITY BEHIND THEM,” Beijing 11/10/97) reported that PRC President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Boris Yeltsin completed their third summit in 20 months with a settlement of a decades-old border dispute. The border agreement lays out the 2,670 -mile-long eastern frontier from Mongolia to the Tumen River. The shorter, 31 -mile-long western border is still under negotiation. PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang quoted Yeltsin as saying, “We have solved the problem which remained unsolved for generations.” Jiang stated, “I think the bilateral [Sino-Russian] relationship is a strategic partnership of equality and mutual respect. We will not form an alliance, and this kind of long-term relationship is not directed against another country.” Yeltsin added, “It’s very important for us to improve this kind of relationship between the two governments.” Meanwhile, Bill Palmer, spokesman for the US Embassy in Beijing, said that Yeltsin’s meetings with PRC leaders will be on the agenda when US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott holds talks Tuesday in Beijing with PRC Foreign Minister Qian Qichen and Qian’s top Russia expert.
Agence France-Presse (“RUSSIAN SUITCASE BOMBS DO EXIST, SCIENTIST SAYS,”11/10/97) reported that Alexei Yablokov, a former ecology adviser to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, said in an interview published Monday that portable nuclear devices do exist in Russia and are not under Yeltsin’s direct control. [Ed. note: See “Russian Nuclear Weapons Safety” in the Russian Section of the October 13 Daily Report.] He added, “These are not ballistic rockets, so everything depends on whose hands they are in.” Yablokov said that the chances of the devices being stolen or falling into the wrong hands “is not great, but I want it to be zero.”
The US Defense Department issued a press release (“CONGRESSMEN VISIT MISSILE SITES IN RUSSIA, UKRAINE,” Washington, USIA Text, 11/07/97) which said that US Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Vic Snyder (D-Arkansas) recently visited former Soviet missile sites in Russia and Ukraine that are being dismantled as part of the Defense Department’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR). The release said that, to date, the CTR program has eliminated 66 SS-19 silos and 58 SS-19 missiles in Ukraine. All 132 SS-19 silos in Ukraine are scheduled to be eliminated by the end of 1998, and the CTR program has begun preliminary work to eliminate all Ukrainian SS-24 missiles and launchers.
Fifteen Japanese women married to DPRK citizens arrived in Japan Saturday from the DPRK to visit their homeland for the first time in decades. Most of the visiting women left Japan around 1960 and had not been allowed by the DPRK to go abroad until now. About 1,800 Japanese women and a small number of Japanese men still live there. The women’s six-day visit followed tortuous negotiations between Japan and the DPRK, and is considered a step toward normalizing relations. (Korea Times, “JAPANESE FROM NK START LONG-AWAITED REUNIONS,” 11/10/97)
Polls show that, since the recent announcement of the merger of the ruling New Korea Party (NKP) and the Democratic Party (DP), the popularity of NKP presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang has been rising steadily. According to a telephone survey of 1,030 voters conducted on Saturday jointly by the Chosun Ilbo, the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), and Gallup Korea, Lee’s support has now reached 21.4 percent, compared to 16.1 percent on October 25 and 15.5 percent on November 4. Asked who they think will win the election irrespective of their vote, respondents put Kim Dae-jung in front at 52.7 percent, Lee second with 10.6 percent, and Rhee In-je last with 10.5 percent. 48.2 percent thought that ROK President Kim Young-sam’s resignation from the NKP was a good move, while 20.8 percent disagreed with his actions. Regarding the candidates’ issues, 30 percent favored Kim’s platform of a change in government, 29 percent support Rhee’s call for a generation change, and 20 percent wanted to see an end to the “three Kims” political era. The merger of the NKP and the DP was seen as favorable by 35.5 percent, while 40.7 percent disapproved. 44.6 percent want to retain the presidential system, while only 28.7 percent support the introduction of the parliamentary system as proposed by the National Congress for New Politics (NCNP) and United Liberal Democrats (ULD) alliance. (Chosun Ilbo, “LEE GAINING IN POPULARITY,” 11/10/97)
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