≡ S. Korea, US Reaffirm Close Coordination On N. Korea
The top diplomats of South Korea and the U.S. have reaffirmed the two countries' continued close coordination on North Korea.
The U.S. State Department revealed on Tuesday that South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed regional and global issues during their bilateral talks in Silicon Valley, California.
The two officials praised the enduring strength of the alliance and reiterated their commitment to cooperation across the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy and South Korea's New Southern Policy.
Kang and Pompeo also discussed trilateral efforts with Japan and pledged to work closely together on regional and global issues.
In a separate readout on talks involving Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, the department said the three sides stressed their cooperation is essential to ensure the future of peace in the Indo-Pacific region.■
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≡ Pompeo: US Remains Hopeful Over N. Korea's Denuclearization Commitment
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remains hopeful Pyongyang will keep its denuclearization commitment made by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, adding that it is in the best interest of the regime.
While speaking to business leaders in San Francisco on Monday, Pompeo touched on the situation with the North and stressed the U.S. does not pose a security risk to the North Koreans.
He expressed hope that Washington can still convince Pyongyang to denuclearize and show that it can have a brighter future even without nuclear weapons.
Pompeo also stressed that sanctions on North Korea are not "American sanctions" but global sanctions taken along with the rest of the world.
Amid a drawn out stall in nuclear talks between the two countries, the North has called on the U.S. to withdraw its "hostile policy" toward the regime, referring to the heavily imposed sanctions.
The U.S., however, has been pushing for the North to take significant denuclearization steps before it offers sanctions relief and security guarantees.■
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≡ US Sanctions 2 Entities Over N. Korean Overseas Workers
The U.S. has sanctioned two North Korean entities for labor exports in violation of international sanctions.
The Treasury Department on Tuesday said it is targeting Namgang Trading Corporation, a North Korean trading firm, and Beijing Sukbakso, a China-based North Korean lodging facility, for facilitating Pyongyang's practice of sending laborers abroad.
The new action freezes the designated businesses' property and interests in the U.S. or in possession of Americans, and bans all dealings with them.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that the exportation of North Korean workers generates illicit revenue for the North, in violation of United Nations sanctions.
Under a 2017 U.N. Security Council resolution, all U.N. member states were required to expel North Korean workers by December last year.■
<Photo: Yonhap News>[2020.01.15]
≡ Iran Announces First Arrests Over Downed Ukrainian Airliner
Iran says it has made its first arrests over the accidental shooting down of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that killed all 176 passengers and crew on board.
Judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaili made the announcement on Tuesday but did not name who or how many had been arrested.
He said "extensive investigations" had been carried out.
This came shortly after President Hassan Rouhani said "anyone who should be punished must be punished," adding that the whole world will be watching.
The spokesman also said around 30 people had been arrested in local protests over the air disaster, which has seen hundreds of angry people, mostly students, take to the streets shouting slogans against Iran's leaders.
Tehran had for days denied Western claims that the Boeing 737 had been downed by a missile until it revealed on Saturday that a missile operator had mistaken the plane for a cruise missile and opened fire independently.■
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