IN TODAY’S REPORT:
2. Aid for DPRK
3. ROK Financial Crisis
4. ROK Presidential Election
5. Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
6. Russian Officer Accused of Spying for Japan
7. US Military Bases in Japan
United Press International (“U.S.; N. KOREA TO MEET IN WASHINGTON,” Washington, 11/24/97) and Reuters (“U.S., NORTH KOREA OFFICIALS TO BEGIN HIGH-LEVEL TALKS,” Washington, 11/25/97) reported that US State Department spokesman James Foley said that DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charles Kartman will hold a meeting Wednesday to discuss a “range of issues,” including peace talks with the ROK, food aid, exchange of liaison offices, and missile proliferation. The State Department said that National Security Council and Defense Department officials would also take part in this week’s talks. Kartman and Kim have met bilaterally before, but always in New York. The department described the choice of venue as “mutually convenient” and said that Kim and his aides would also be meeting members of Congress on Capitol Hill today.
US State Department Deputy Spokesman Jim Foley (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING,” USIA Transcript, 11/24/97) said that the US has not decided who the chief negotiator will be for the four-party peace talks in Geneva. He added, though, that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright “is prepared to meet with her counterparts as and when appropriate, and when they are all available.” Speaking of the agenda for the four-party talks, Foley said that the US has “always said that once the plenary talks begin in Geneva, that any side could raise any issue it wished, any issue of concern.”
Agence France-Presse (“RED CROSS SEEKING MEDICAL AID FOR NORTH KOREA,” Beijing, 11/25/97) reported that the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Tuesday appealed for US$14.3 million in medical aid for the DPRK. The appeal calls for cash, goods and services to supply more than 700 health institutions in two northern provinces with essential drugs and equipment, a statement said. Ole Gronning, the head of the federation’s delegation in Pyongyang, stated, “as we enter another year with severe food deficit the situation remains very critical and food aid will still be needed. However, the health sector is close to a collapse, and it is vital that we support hospitals and clinics with medicine and equipment.”
The Los Angeles Times (David Holley, “SOUTH KOREAN, JAPANESE STOCK MARKETS PLUNGE,” Seoul, 11/25/97) reported that negotiators from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) met with ROK Vice Finance Minister Kang Man-soo on Monday to start evaluating the ROK’s request for aid by examining its financial sector. A second IMF delegation due to arrive Tuesday will examine the country’s overall economic situation. Formal negotiations with the IMF are due to start Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Times (Evelyn Iritani, “APEC EXPECTED TO BACK MONETARY PLAN,” Vancouver, 11/25/97) and the Associated Press, (Martin Crutsinger, “LEADERS TRY TO QUELL ASIA MONEY WOE,” Vancouver, 11/25/97) reported that leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum are expected on Tuesday to endorse the Manila plan for a regional monetary stabilization package designed to provide “backstop financing” to Asian economies in trouble. The proposal would give the International Monetary Fund, which would oversee the program, a vehicle for addressing the effects of huge buildups of short-term debt. The APEC leaders pledged in a communique to “enhance our capacity and that of the international system to prevent future crises and to respond quickly and effectively in the event they do occur.”
Agence France-Presse (“SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN TO START,” Seoul, 11/25/97) reported that the ROK began the three-week-long official presidential election campaign Wednesday. Opposition leader Kim Dae-jung on Tuesday maintained his lead in the last opinion polls, but the polls also showed ruling party candidate Lee Hoi-chang in a position from which he could catch Kim. Former Kyonggi-do governor Rhee In-je trails in third place.
The Associated Press (Susanne M. Schafer, “PENTAGON WARNS OF WEAPONS THREATS,” Washington, 11/25/97) reported that US Defense Secretary William Cohen on Monday released a Defense Department report on weapons of mass destruction which said that more than 25 nations have developed or may be developing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and the means to deliver them. Cohen stated, “The threat is neither far-fetched nor far off, and the threat will only grow.” However, the report mentioned “a dramatic reduction in the threat from the countries of the former Soviet Union.” It added, “Six nations that might have become nuclear powers — Ukraine, Kazakstan, Belarus, North Korea, South Africa and Iraq — have been turned away from that path.”
The Associated Press (“REPORT: RUSSIAN ACCUSED OF SPYING,” Moscow, 11/25/97) reported that the ITAR-Tass and Interfax new agencies said that Captain Grigory Pasko, a naval officer in Russia’s Pacific Fleet who writes for the military newspaper Boyevaya Vakhta (Combat Vigil), was arrested Sunday in the Far East port of Vladivostok on charges of spying for Japan. Russia’s Federal Security Service said that Pasko has been charged with high treason. Pasko was leaving on a private visit to Niigata, Japan, on Thursday when customs agents at Vladivostok airport found that he was carrying documents about defense plants in the Primorsky region. The documents were confiscated, and the counterintelligence service decided to arrest him on his return after concluding that the data was confidential, the Russian reports said.
The Washington Post (Kevin Sullivan, “JAPANESE INCINERATOR FOULS NAVY BASE’S AIR,” Atsugi, Japan, 11/24/97, A18) reported that a large industrial waste incinerator just outside a US naval base in Atsugi, Japan has become a diplomatic problem between Japan and the US. The privately owned incinerator spews dioxin, lead, arsenic, mercury and dozens of other dangerous and potentially cancer-causing toxins into the air 24 hours a day. US Navy officials have urged the Japanese government “on humanitarian grounds” to shut down the incinerator, which the Navy blames for sharp increases in reports of asthma and other respiratory ailments, skin diseases, headaches, eye problems and persistent coughs. Navy studies show a rate of miscarriages 27 percent higher for US women living on the base than those off-base. Navy scientists have concluded that spending three years at the base increases long-term risks of developing cancer. The article said that while Japanese frequently complain about the noise and pollution created on US bases, or about troops’ behavior, the case of the incinerator is the first in memory of the US military complaining of pollution caused by its Japanese neighbors. Tetsuro Murata, owner of the incinerator, said that because the issue has become a diplomatic problem, he would move his plant if the government pays the cost, which he estimated at US$240 million.
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Sunday called on the ROK to take a business-like approach in requesting a bailout fund from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), rather than treating it as an infringement of national prestige, ROK officials said yesterday. ROK Foreign Minister Yoo Chong-ha, meanwhile, called for the international community’s cooperation in helping the ROK foreign exchange market regain stability. The two officials also agreed to step up coordination to successfully hold the full-dress Korean peace talks, slated for December 9 in Geneva. (Korea Times, “ALBRIGHT CALLS ON SEOUL TO TAKE BUSINESS-LIKE POSTURE OVER IMF FUNDS,” 11/25/97)
Delegations of military instructors from thirteen East Asian gathered in Seoul Monday for the second International Committee of the Red Cross seminar on humanitarian law for armed forces in East Asia. Only Burma declined to attend. Delegations from both the DPRK and the ROK are attending. An ROK Defense Ministry official acknowledged that it is rare for the two Koreas to both participate in such an international meeting. (Korea Times, “NORTH, SOUTH KOREA ATTEND LAW OF WAR SEMINAR,” 11/25/97)
The Washington Post, quoting a US government official, reported Saturday that the Clinton administration recently promised large-scale food aid to the DPRK through the World Food Program (WFP), and that the WFP by next month will request the international community to provide food assistance in excess of one million tons, more than three times the amount of food aid provided in 1987. The DPRK did not mention this guarantee of food assistance at the preliminary four-party talks Friday in New York. An ROK government official said that they had never heard of the US government’s pledge of food assistance to the DPRK. The US government has contributed 177 tons of food aid to the DPRK through the WFP this year. (Chosun Ilbo, “US PLEDGEDS LARGE FOOD AID TO NORTH: WASHINGTON POST,” 11/25/97)
Naewoe Press reported Monday that DPRK authorities are allegedly developing policies to resell aid goods received from the ROK to the PRC. The report said that at the order of Kim Jong-il, aid goods are to be kept from being distributed to DPRK residents. According to press sources, ethnically Korean PRC citizens who have recently visited Pyongyang came to hear of practices whereby the DPRK removed the labels from clothes and footwear produced in the ROK so that the products would appear to be DPRK-manufactured. The Overseas Cooperation Department of Rajin-Sonbong City reportedly decided, upon the arrival of 20,000 items of clothing from the Brethren-Love civic aid group, to sell them straight to the PRC. Some Korean-Chinese also reported that they had heard that 1 million items of clothing and 500,000 pairs of shoes were to be sold to the PRC via PRC companies. (Chosun Ilbo, “NORTH TO RESELL AID GOODS TO CHINA,” 11/25/97)
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