I. United States
1. DPRK on November Six-Way Talks
Agence France-Presse (“NORTH KOREA AGREES IN PRINCIPLE TO SIX-WAY TALKS IN NOVEMBER,” 09/12/03) reported that the DPRK has agreed in principle to hold a second round of six-nation talks in Beijing in early November over its nuclear weapons program, a report said. The DPRK sent this message to Russia and other nations involved in the first round of talks, which ended late last month, Kyodo News reported, citing unnamed diplomatic sources in Moscow. Talks between the DPRK, the ROK, the US, Japan, the PRC and Russia ended in Beijing in late August with an undertaking to meet again, but with no date set, over the crisis that erupted last October. Toshimitsu Motegi, senior vice minister for foreign affairs, told a Tokyo lecture meeting that Japan hoped to resume the talks “as early as in late October” while saying no date had been set yet. Motegi also indicated it could take years to resolve the DPRK crisis. “If we take a wider view, taking time such as two years or three years would not cause great disadvantage to our side,” he said. Russian President Vladimir Putin had sent a personal letter to DPRK leader Kim Jong-Il, urging him not to take any provocative measures after the first round of talks, it said. The Putin letter was delivered to Kim by Konstantin Pulikovskii, Putin’s representative to the Russian Far East, when he was invited to Pyongyang to attend the 55th anniversary of the DPRK government.
2. Op-Ed: Pritchard on DPRK Diplomacy
The Los Angeles Times (Jack Pritchard, “N. KOREA NEEDS A PERSONAL TOUCH,” 09/10/03) carried an Op-Ed by Jack Pritchard, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was the Bush administration’s special envoy for negotiations with North Korea and US representative to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). Pritchard wrote, I had plenty of challenging assignments during 28 years in the Army, five years on the staff of the National Security Council and two years at the State Department. But perhaps the hardest part of working for the government was leaving it. When news of my resignation from the State Department broke on Aug. 26, the reports ranged from amusing to mildly malicious to dead wrong. A Wall Street Journal opinion piece accused me of undermining a top department official in a meeting I never had. Simply stated, I did not resign in protest, nor did I time my departure to make a public statement. I withheld comment during the six-party talks in Beijing last month, believing it inappropriate to place an undue burden on our negotiating team. Whatever my personal views on our North Korea policy, I owe the president what every citizen does: support in seeking a resolution to the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula. That does not mean that I necessarily agree with all aspects of our government’s policy. When I disagree, I won’t hesitate to offer my views. I did that while a member of the last two administrations. I resigned as special envoy for negotiations with North Korea because I was in the job in name only. I was brought into this administration precisely because of my experience in dealing with North Koreans, but was now perceived as too soft on North Korea. I had tendered my resignation April 18 when I was not selected to lead the trilateral talks in Beijing. Secretary of State Colin Powell asked me to stay on for a while and, out of enormous respect for him, I did. I departed as soon as I had helped to set up the next round of talks. The administration is correct in wanting to internationalize the nuclear issue. Ultimately any resolution will require the buy-in of the six parties involved in the multilateral talks. What is missing is the bilateral piece. It is not possible to have a serious, sustained discussion in a plenary setting over a few days. Six delegations, 24 interpreters and many note-takers guarantee that the reading of scripted remarks is about the only thing that will take place in open session. For North Korea, it is a requirement to get into the record how great the “Dear Leader” is and how the hostile US policy is to blame for the current crisis. However, in a bilateral setting, it is possible over time to peel away the posturing and deal with substantive issues. I have been able to cut off an opening monologue and tell my DPRK counterpart to just pretend he gave the speech and I would pretend I listened and then we could get down to business. That is possible only after developing a personal relationship that comes with extended contact. Having a 40-minute encounter in the corner of the room will not do it. My first serious exposure to bilateral talks with North Korea lasted 11 hours, and that was only the first day. The structure of the six-party talks is useful and will ultimately be a significant part of the solution, but we must be able to engage the North Koreans at length. Serious engagement with Pyongyang does not equate, as some have said, with rewarding North Korea. Others have said we don’t want to negotiate with the North Koreans because they are too good at it. Nonsense. Negotiators do not commit their governments to any course of action during negotiations. Having a series of bilateral meetings under the umbrella of six-party talks opens up all kinds of possibilities. Coordinating approaches, comparing notes and recalibrating as a result of PRC, Japanese, ROK and Russian bilateral meetings with North Korea can have a synergistic effect in moving more quickly toward a resolution. It also has the added advantage of taking the initiative away from North Korea. Up to now, Pyongyang has determined the pace of developments, and those have all been negative. Getting the substance of our policy right is critical, but if the structure is wrong we won’t get very far.
3. DPRK New Prime Minister
DPRK Business News (“DPRK APPOINTS LIGHT-INDUSTRY SPECIALIST AS NEW PRIME MINISTER,” 09/12/03) reported that the DPRK appointed a new Prime Minister and reaffirmed the country’s directional shift in a major cabinet reshuffle at the 11th Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang, according to DPRK state media monitored by Seoul’s Yonhap news agency. Kim Jong Il, newly re-elected as Chairman of the DPRK’s National Defence Commission, appointed technocrat Pak Pong Ju, a light-industry specialist, as Prime Minister, replacing Hong Song Nam. Pak was previously the DPRK’s minister in charge of the nation’s chemical industry. Kim also formed a new cabinet noticeable for its significant changes to the government’s economic team, in a move that saw key military figures replaced by younger, more pragmatic, appointees. In his inaugural statement carried by Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), new Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju said the cabinet would work hard for economic construction and pledged to continue inter-Korean reconciliation. Firmly signaling that the DPRK’s reform drive is set to accelerate, Pak stated that “one of the most important missions for the cabinet is to achieve fundamental innovation in economic programs. The cabinet will exert its best efforts to increase production capability to a world standard as early as possible, through steps aimed at making the state measures designed to improve economic management pay off, and developing science and technology in a way to meet the demands of this era of the information industry.”
4. DPRK on DPRK Nuclear Program
The Associated Press (“N. KOREA NIXES DEMAND TO END NUKE PROGRAM,” Seoul, 09/12/03) reported that the DPRK again rejected a US demand to end its nuclear weapons program, saying Friday it has no intention of disarming itself in the face of perceived US aggression. The commentary by the DPRK’s official newspaper Rodong Sinmun comes a day after US officials said in Washington that the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods at a key DPRK facility apparently has ceased, although the reason was unclear. The DPRK can extract weapons-grade plutonium from its pool of 8,000 rods to build several nuclear bombs. The Rodong Sinmun position is not new. North Korea repeatedly has rejected US demands that it allow verifiable and permanent dismantling of its nuclear weapons programs. Rodong Sinmun also again accused the US of “seeking to mount a pre-emptive nuclear attack,” according to the official KCNA news agency. During last month’s six-nation talks in Beijing on resolving the nuclear crisis, the DPRK delegate said his country intends to formally declare its possession of nuclear weapons and carry out a nuclear test. But the Japanese news agency Kyodo, quoting unidentified diplomats, reported Friday from Moscow that the DPRK agreed in principle to a second round of talks in November. The Russian news agency ITAR-Tass quoted a diplomatic source in the DPRK capital, Pyongyang, as saying North Korea is ready to hold a second round of talks on the dispute “if Washington submits new proposals to settle it.” The Russian Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the Kyodo report, but a senior Russian official said talks were possible. “It all depends on the inclination of all the participants to return to the talks table,” Russia’s ITAR-Tass quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov as saying from the Siberian city of Irkutsk.
5. PRC SARS Alert System
Agence France-Presse (“PRC CAPITAL SETS UP ALERT SYSTEM TO PREVENT SARS COMEBACK,” 09/12/03) reported that Beijing, the city hardest hit by SARS in the world, has set up a three-level emergency alert system to prevent the reappearance of the deadly pneumonia-like disease, state media said. The system mandates that if any cases are found in Beijing or neighboring areas, the city will institute the third level of alert, which will see Ditan Hospital, designated to treat epidemics, mobilized, the Xinhua news agency said. Schools would then be required to take students’ temperatures every day. If just one suspected case is reported in any school, school officials have the authority to suspend classes, according to the guidelines. The alert will be raised to the second level when the capital reports six or more cases and has three or more outbreak locations. Schools which report diagnosed or suspected cases might be asked to suspend classes. Quarantine measures would also be taken. Residential buildings and construction sites will be closely monitored as their occupants tend to live at close quarters. If university dormitories are found to have one confirmed case, the dormitory floor where the case was detected will be quarantined, but if two or more confirmed cases are discovered, the entire dormitory will be isolated, the guidelines say. Hospitals assigned to serve as backup must be ready with all necessary staff in place within 24 hours of receiving notification from the city’s SARS prevention command center. When the city sees 30 or more diagnosed cases, the first level of alert will take effect. By then, Xiaotangshan Hospital on the outskirts of the city, which was built specifically to handle SARS patients during the outbreak this spring, will begin receiving patients. Authorities will also strictly impose health checks at access points such as airports, train stations, long distance bus stations and highways. Passengers leaving or entering Beijing must submit to temperature checks. Anyone found to have a fever will be sent to a health facility for monitoring and passengers who travelled with such people will be put under surveillance by health officials.
6. US Marine Japan Rape Sentence
Agence France-Presse (“US MARINE GIVEN 42-MONTH PRISON TERM FOR OKINAWA RAPE,” 09/12/03) reported that a Japanese court sentenced a 21-year-old US marine to three years and six months in prison for beating and raping a woman on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa in May. The verdict was handed down to Lance Corporal Jose Torres, who was charged with rape resulting in injury, at the Naha District Court on Okinawa. The maximum sentence for the charge is life imprisonment, while the minimum sentence is three years. Prosecutors had demanded a five-year prison sentence, charging Torres had broken the nose of a 19-year-old woman with a punch to the face after leading her out of a restaurant where they had met for the first time on May 25. He was accused of raping the woman on a road nearby in the town of Kin, on the main island of Okinawa, northeast of the prefectural capital, Naha. Torres had admitted the charges. Judge Nobuyuki Yokota called the circumstances of the crime “vicious”. “The feelings of the family and victim in demanding a severe punishment are natural, and I cannot ignore the anxiety caused to the neighbors and general citizens,” he said. Okinawa hosts about two-thirds of the 47,000 US troops in Japan. A string of crimes committed by US soldiers, as well as disputes over the ownership and use of the land on which US military facilities sit, have made Okinawa residents reluctant hosts.
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