Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Far Eastern Federal University campus at Russky Island in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
April 25, 2019
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Thursday that his summit with President Vladimir Putin will help jointly assess the Korean peninsula issues and coordinate their stances.
Kim and Putin met for their unprecedented summit in the Russian city of Vladivostok, where Kim is likely to seek support from the Russian leader as nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States are hanging in limbo.
Putin told Kim he welcomed North Korea’s efforts to improve ties with the United States.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Joyce Lee; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s most trusted policy adviser apparently has been removed from one of his posts, a South Korean lawmaker said Wednesday, a possible personnel reshuffle in the wake of the breakdown of the North Korea-U.S. summit in February.
The head of the South Korean parliament’s intelligence committee, Lee Hye-hoon, cited South Korea’s main spy agency as saying that Kim Yong Chol lost his Workers’ Party post in charge of relations with South Korea earlier this month. He was replaced by the little-known Jang Kum Chol as the director of the party’s United Front Department, Lee said.
Lee said she obtained the information at a private briefing from the National Intelligence Service.
Kim Yong Chol has been North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator and counterpart of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo since Kim Jong Un entered nuclear talks with the U.S. early last year. He traveled to Washington and met President Donald Trump twice before Kim’s two summits with Trump.
His rise had baffled many North Korea watchers because he handled South Korea ties, not international or U.S. relations. Previously, he was a military intelligence chief believed to be behind a slew of provocations, including two deadly attacks in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans and an alleged 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures. Both Seoul and Washington imposed sanctions on him in recent years.
The NIS and the Unification Ministry, a Seoul agency responsible for North Korea ties, said they could not immediately confirm the information on Kim Yong Chol.
The NIS has a spotty record in confirming developments in North Korea. But if confirmed, Kim Yong Chol’s replacement would add to speculation that he is being sidelined from nuclear diplomacy to take the responsibility for the failure of the February summit in Hanoi.
Kim Jong Un, who is desperate to revive his country’s moribund economy, returned home empty-handed from Hanoi after Trump rejected his calls for easing U.S.-led sanctions in return for dismantling a key nuclear complex, a limited denuclearization step.
Kim Yong Chol wasn’t among a list of officials accompanying Kim Jong Un on his current visit to Russia, which began earlier Wednesday. Many experts in South Korea said North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui would take the lead in the nuclear diplomacy.
“(Pyongyang’s) significantly diminished reliance on Kim Yong Chol is a very positive sign for the denuclearization negotiations between North Korea and the United States,” said Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at South Korea’s Sejong Institute. He called Kim Yong Chol “most responsible” for the second summit’s failure due to his hard-line stance.
While the NIS believes the personnel change possibly indicates that the department takes a back seat in the nuclear negotiations with Washington going forward, the spy agency also said it wasn’t immediately clear whether Kim Yong Chol would be removed from the talks entirely or immediately, Lee said.
Kim still maintains several other prominent titles, including vice chairman of the Workers Party’s Central Committee and a member of the powerful State Affairs Commission.
Source: NewsMax America
FILE PHOTO: A Spanish National Police car is seen outside the North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, Spain February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo
April 24, 2019
By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A former U.S. Marine accused of stealing electronics from the North Korean embassy in Madrid in a robbery of the diplomatic compound was ordered by a federal judge in Los Angeles on Tuesday to remain in U.S. custody pending possible extradition to Spain.
The judge also ordered the unsealing of U.S. court documents in the case against Christopher Philip Ahn, 38, who was arrested by federal agents in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Spanish authorities have sought Ahn’s extradition from the United States. He is charged there with being among a group of seven intruders who stormed the North Korean mission on Feb. 22, restrained and physically beat some embassy personnel, held them hostage for hours and then fled.
Spanish investigators identified the intruders as self-professed members of a group that calls itself Cheollima Civil Defense and seeks the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. According to U.S. court documents, the raiders removed computers, computer drives and a mobile phone from the embassy before the alleged ringleader, Adrian Hong, traveled to the United States and met with the FBI.
Hong, a Mexican citizen and U.S. resident, was an activist who co-founded the non-profit human rights group Liberty in North Korea but later left that organization. His whereabouts remain unknown.
The anti-Kim group, which also calls itself Free Joseon, has denied attacking the embassy, insisting its members were invited inside.
RAID COINCIDED WITH SUMMIT
Ahn is charged in Spain with breaking and entering, illegal restraint, making threats, robbery with violence and intimidation, causing injuries and criminal organization, U.S. court documents say. He could face more than 10 years in prison if convicted there.
The incident at the embassy came at a sensitive time, just days ahead of a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim that abruptly collapsed without the two leaders reaching a deal on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
North Korea’s foreign ministry denounced the incident as a “grave terrorist attack” and cited rumors that the FBI was partially behind the raid. The U.S. State Department has said Washington had nothing to do with it.
Ahn arrived in Madrid on the morning on Feb. 22 and left shortly after the raid, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Lulejian told the judge on Tuesday. He was photographed outside the embassy wearing black and carrying a backpack that may have contained weapons, Lulejian said.
The FBI received the stolen material and returned it to the Spanish court investigating the raid, and Spanish authorities have returned the items to Pyongyang’s mission, according to a Spanish judicial source.
In U.S. court on Tuesday, Ahn’s public defender, Callie Steele, asked Magistrate Judge Jean Rosenbluth to keep records in the case sealed to protect her client, saying North Korea’s leader had ordered assassinations in the past and that credible death threats had been made against Ahn.
She also asked that Ahn be placed under home detention so he could care for his ill mother and blind grandmother at their house in Chino, California. The judge denied the request, ordering he remain in federal custody ahead of his next court appearance, set for July 18.
Ahn was arrested at Hong’s apartment in Los Angeles last week while dropping something off there, Steele told the judge.
He was armed at the time with a handgun, which he legally owned to protect himself, after the FBI informed him of threats on his life, she said in court.
Ahn was born and raised in Southern California and later obtained a masters degree in business administration from the University of Virginia, Steele said. He was honorably discharged after service in the U.S. military, she said.
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler)
A combination of file photos shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending a wreath laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam March 2, 2019 and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin looking on during a joint news conference with South African President Jacob Zuma after their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Krasnodar region, Russia, May 16, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/Pool/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool
April 22, 2019
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit Russia for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korean state media confirmed.
With his Russia visit, North Korea’s Kim is seen working to build up foreign support for his economic development plans, since the breakdown of the second U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February led to stalled talks with Washington on the sanctions relief Pyongyang had sought.
State media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the visit will happen “soon,” but did not elaborate the time or the venue.
Putin and Kim are on track to meet by the end of April, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.
Kim Jong Un’s chief aide, Kim Chang Son, was seen in Vladivostok on Sunday according to South Korean news agency Yonhap, leading to speculation that the Putin-Kim summit will be held in the city around April 24-25.
NK News, a group that follows North Korea, showed photos on its website on Monday of preparations underway at Vladivostok’s Far Eastern Federal University, likely to host part of the summit, with workers installing North Korean and Russian flags.
After the diplomatic failure at the Hanoi summit, Kim is likely looking to prove that he is still being sought after by world leaders, and that he has more options, said Artyom Lukin, a professor at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok.
“Kim does not want to look too dependent on Washington, Beijing and Seoul,” he said. “As for Russia, the Putin-Kim summit will reaffirm Moscow’s place as a major player on the Korean Peninsula. This meeting is important for Russian international prestige.”
(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Josh Smith; Editing by Sandra Maler)
National Security Advisor John Bolton adjusts his glasses as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
April 20, 2019
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea has criticized U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton’s “nonsense” call for Pyongyang to show that it’s serious about giving up its nuclear weapons, the second time it has criticized a leading U.S. official in less than a week.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is open to a third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but Bolton told Bloomberg News on Wednesday there first needed to be “a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons”.
“Bolton, national security adviser of the White House, in an interview with Bloomberg, showed above himself by saying such a nonsense,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told reporters when asked about his recent comments, the Korean Central News Agency said on Saturday.
“Bolton’s remarks make me wonder whether they sprang out of incomprehension of the intentions of the top leaders of the DPRK and the U.S. or whether he was just trying to talk with a certain sense of humor for his part, with its own deviation,” she said, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.
“All things considered, his word has no charm in it and he looks dim-sighted to me.”
The North Korean vice minister also warned that there would be no good if the United States continued “to throw away such remarks devoid of discretion and reason”.
North Korea said on Thursday it no longer wanted to deal with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that he should be replaced in talks by someone more mature, hours after it announced its first weapons test since nuclear talks broke down.
(Reporting by Joori Roh, Josh Smith; Editing by Nick Macfie)
A Huawei logo is pictured during the media day for the Shanghai auto show in Shanghai, China April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song
April 20, 2019
(Reuters) – U.S. intelligence has accused Huawei Technologies of being funded by Chinese state security, The Times said on Saturday, adding to the list of allegations faced by the Chinese technology company in the West.
The CIA accused Huawei of receiving funding from China’s National Security Commission, the People’s Liberation Army and a third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network, the British newspaper reported, citing a source.
Earlier this year, U.S. intelligence shared its claims with other members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group, which includes Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to the report http://bit.ly/2KT7ztd.
Huawei dismissed the allegations in a statement cited by the newspaper.
“Huawei does not comment on unsubstantiated allegations backed up by zero evidence from anonymous sources,” a Huawei representative told The Times.
The company, the CIA and Chinese state security agencies did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
The accusation comes at a time of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing and amid concerns in the United States that Huawei’s equipment could be used for espionage. The company has said the concerns are unfounded.
Authorities in the United States are probing Huawei for alleged sanctions violations.
Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in December at the request of the United States on charges of bank and wire fraud in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran.
She denies wrongdoing and her father has previously said the arrest was “politically motivated”.
Amid such charges, top educational institutions in the West have recently severed ties with Huawei to avoid losing federal funding.
Another Chinese technology company, ZTE Corp, has also been at the center of similar controversies in the United States.
U.S. sanctions forced ZTE to stop most business between April and July last year after Commerce Department officials said it broke a pact and was caught illegally shipping U.S.-origin goods to Iran and North Korea. The sanctions were lifted after ZTE paid $1.4 billion in penalties.
Reuters reported earlier this week that the United States will push its allies at a meeting in Prague next month to adopt shared security and policy measures that will make it more difficult for Huawei to dominate 5G telecommunications networks.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Macfie)
FILE PHOTO: A Spanish National Police car is seen outside the North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, Spain February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo
April 19, 2019
By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. authorities on Thursday arrested a former U.S. Marine who is a member of a group that allegedly raided the North Korean embassy in Madrid in February and stole electronics, according to two sources familiar with the arrest.
Christopher Ahn was arrested and is expected to be arraigned on Friday in federal court in Los Angles, according to a law enforcement official and a source close to the group.
The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment.
In April, investigators said the intruders, self-professed members of a group seeking the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, removed computers and hard drives from the embassy before fleeing to the United States, where they handed the material to the FBI. Sources said the material had been returned by Spanish authorities to Pyongyang’s mission.
A group of at least 10 people stormed into the embassy in February, restrained and physically beat some personnel and held them hostage for hours before fleeing, the Spanish court said earlier.
The anti-Kim group, which calls itself Cheolima Civil Defense, said the raid was not an attack and that it had been invited into the embassy.
Three of the intruders took an embassy official into the basement during the raid and encouraged him to defect from North Korea, according to a detailed document made public on March 26 by the Spanish court.
The document included the names of the leaders of the group, some of whom are believed to be in the United States, while others could have left for other countries. The court is seeking their extradition.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball. Writing by Ginger Gibson.; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
Watergate journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein Friday said they have concerns after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, with Woodward saying the document points to a crisis in President Donald Trump’s administration and Bernstein seeing it as evidence of a coverup.
“The government can’t pause and take months to thrash it out, Woodward told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I believe from reporting that there is a governing crisis in the Trump administration.”
With North Korea, the Chinese trade and tariff debate, and the immigration questions, the “Trump administration really just doesn’t work [as] all the people who have more experience are gone,” Woodward added. “I worry about a crisis.”
And if that happens, Trump doesn’t “have a strategy on any of these issues, and he does not now have a team that can work together, said Woodward.
The campaign ” knew and happily welcomed” Russia’s aid, he added, which means the continuing threat of Russian interference is “very real.”
Meanwhile, Bernstein told CNN’s “New Day” that he believes the report shows that there is “no question that this has been a vast presidential coverup” and Congress must be able to see all the facts in the document “without the kind of muddled water” that Attorney General William Barr provided with his descriptions.
“The cover-up is in the 10 or 11 areas that the special prosecutor laid out as possible or likely obstructions of justice,” he added. “When you add it all up you get a picture in which the two parts of the report fuse together and it is a picture of an administration and a presidency and a campaign that crosses boundaries such as we have never seen with the possible exception of Watergate.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected calls by North Korea that he be removed from the Trump administration’s negotiations with Kim Jong Un’s regime, saying “nothing’s changed” on the U.S. diplomatic team handling talks.
“I’m still in charge of the team,” Pompeo said Friday in his first response to the demand by a senior North Korean official who accused the top American diplomat of “fabricating stories like a fiction writer” that undermined talks between Kim and President Donald Trump.
The regime often has criticized Pompeo — sometimes fulminating that he was making “gangster-like demands” — but before Thursday it hadn’t called for him to be banned from talks.
“President Trump’s obviously in charge of the overall effort” in trying to persuade Korea to denuclearize, Pompeo said. “I’m convinced we still have a real opportunity to achieve that outcome.”
Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan spoke at the State Department alongside their Japanese counterparts. The two sides met ahead of a meeting between Trump and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that’s scheduled to take place at the White House between April 26 and 27 and a planned state visit by Trump to Japan on May 25 to 28.
Even as the U.S. and Japan met to strengthen their commitment to “the final, fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea, the Kremlin confirmed that Kim would meet President Vladimir Putin in Russia later this month.
The meeting suggested that Kim, frustrated with the U.S., was trying to show he had alternative sources of support.
North Korea’s statement, along with the announcement of a test of a “new-type tactical guided weapon,” appeared to be part of a push by Kim to regain leverage after Trump walked away from their second summit in Hanoi without a disarmament deal. Talks broke down over disagreements over the value of Kim’s offer to close some nuclear facilities and U.S. efforts to protect the sanctions regime against North Korea.
North Korea has repeatedly directed its ire at Trump’s top foreign policy aides, Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, while lavishing praise on the president and expressing an eagerness to deal with him one-on-one.
Trump has reciprocated, tweeting on April 13 that “I agree with Kim Jong Un of North Korea that our personal relationship remains very good, perhaps the term excellent would be even more accurate, and that a third Summit would be good in that we fully understand where we each stand.”
Source: NewsMax America
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo escorts Vice Chairman of the North Korean Workers’ Party Committee Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s lead negotiator in nuclear diplomacy with the United States, into talks aimed at clearing the way for a second U.S.-North Korea summit as they meet at a hotel in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
April 19, 2019
By David Brunnstrom and Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said U.S. diplomatic efforts will continue toward the goal of denuclearization of North Korea, a day after a North Korean official said it no longer wanted to deal with him in talks.
“Nothing has changed. We’ll continue to work to negotiate; still in charge of the team. President Trump’s obviously in charge of the overall effort, but it’ll be my team,” Pompeo told reporters in Washington.
He added that U.S. diplomats led by Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun would continue efforts to achieve North Korea’s denuclearization, which he said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed to last June.
“I am convinced we will have a real opportunity to achieve that outcome,” Pompeo said at a joint news conference after talks with Japan’s foreign and defense ministers.
In answer to a question, Pompeo said he believed it was possible to maintain diplomatic engagement with North Korea even without providing the sanctions relief it had been demanding.
“We will continue to press North Korea to abandon all of its weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles related programs and facilities,” Pompeo said. “We will continue to enforce all sanctions on North Korea and encourage every country to do so.”
The North Korean foreign ministry official in charge of U.S. affairs said on Thursday that North Korea no longer wanted to deal with Pompeo and he should be replaced in talks by someone more mature.
That statement came hours after North Korea it announced its first weapons test since a second summit between Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un broke down in February.
Experts said the North Korean statement appeared aimed at dividing Trump from senior officials in the hope of exacting concessions, particularly relief from punishing sanctions.
Kim warned last week that the summit breakdown risked reviving tensions and said he was only interested in meeting Trump again if Washington showed more flexibility. He gave a year-end deadline for a change in attitude.
Trump has said he is open to another summit with Kim, but his national security adviser, John Bolton, told Bloomberg News on Wednesday there first needed to be “a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.”
(Reporting by David Brunnstrum and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)