• News Update 10/19/2021

▶ JCS: N. KOREA FIRES BALLISTIC MISSILE INTO SEA

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says North Korea fired off a ballistic missile into the East Sea.

The JCS said the projectile was launched around 10:20 a.m. from the port city of Sinpo in South Hamgyong Province.

It did not say what kind of ballistic missile was fired, but it could have been launched from a submarine as Sinpo is a major naval shipyard.

This marks the seventh show of force by Pyongyang this year in defiance of U.N. resolutions.

It comes amid apparently improving inter-Korean relations, while dialogue between the regime and the United States remain stalled despite Washington's stance that it remains willing to talk with North Korean officials anytime, anywhere without preconditions.

South Korea's presidential office said it was opening a meeting of its National Security Council in response to the North's latest launch.

▶ US NUCLEAR ENVOY TO HOLD TALKS IN SEOUL

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim will visit Seoul this week for talks on ways to restart dialogue with the North, including an end-of-war declaration.

The U.S. diplomat said his trip to Seoul will follow a meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, Noh Kyu-duk and Takehiro Funakoshi, respectively, in Washington this week.

Kim said he and Special Representative Noh also discussed the end of war proposal and that he looks forward to continuing those discussions and other issues of mutual concern.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in proposed declaring a formal end to the Korean War during the U.N. General Assembly in New York last month as a way of bringing the North back to the dialogue table and resuming its denuclearization process.

▶ TOP US ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN STEPS DOWN

The top U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is stepping down from his role only weeks after the chaotic withdrawal from Kabul.

The BBC's David Willis has the latest

[Reporter]
Zalmay Khalilzad was the architect of the Trump administration's peace deal with the Taliban -- an agreement that was negotiated, of course, without the input of the Afghan government, which paved the way for a full U.S. withdrawal in exchange for the Taliban agreeing not to target U.S. troops.

And he then pressed the Taliban and the Western-backed government in Afghanistan to negotiate a political settlement to the conflict, only of course for Ashraf Ghani's government to collapse and the Taliban to sweep through and seize control of the country.

▶ S. KOREA'S FOURTH WAVE SHOWS SIGNS OF LETUP

Korean health authorities have reported another day of around 1,000 new coronavirus cases, raising hopes about the beginning of the end of the fourth wave of the pandemic.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said 1,073 new infections were confirmed in the last 24 hours, including 777 from the greater Seoul area and 25 imported from abroad.

The latest cases raised the cumulative total to 344,518.

The loss of 21 more lives to the virus raised the death toll to 2,689.

With the national COVID-19 inoculation rate nearing the government's target of 70 percent fully vaccinated, preparations are being made to gradually shift to a "living with COVID" scheme from next month.

More than 78 percent of people in South Korea have received one dose of a vaccine and over 65 percent have been fully vaccinated




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