North Korea Willing to Talk About ‘Complete Denuclearization’

Seeking to salvage a landmark meeting with President Trump, Kim Jong-un told South Korea that he is willing to discuss abandoning his arsenal (Getty Images).

SEOUL, South Korea — The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, said during a surprise summit meeting that he is determined to meet President Trump and discuss a “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Sunday.

Mr. Kim met unexpectedly with Mr. Moon on Saturday to discuss salvaging a canceled summit meeting between Mr. Kim and President Trump, a new twist in the whirlwind of diplomacy over the fate of the North’s nuclear arsenal. The leaders of the two Koreas met for two hours on the North Korean side of Panmunjom, a “truce village” inside the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas.

Mr. Moon gave the first details of Saturday’s meeting in a news conference held Sunday morning in Seoul, the South Korean capital. He said that during the meeting, Mr. Kim expressed a desire to “end a history of war and confrontation” on the peninsula. Mr. Kim also said he was willing to talk about getting rid of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, a topic the Trump administration has said was a precondition for a meeting.

Mr. Moon said that Mr. Kim told him he wanted to go though with his planned summit meeting with Mr. Trump, and to make it a success. The Trump-Kim meeting, which would be the first between the heads of state of the United States and North Korea, had been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, but was abruptly canceled on Thursday by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump said he was pulling out of the meeting, citing “tremendous anger and open hostility” from North Korea. But a day later, the American president said he was reconsidering and that it may still take place as scheduled.

Mr. Moon said the biggest challenge to holding the summit meeting was overcoming the lack of trust between North Korea and the United States, two countries that have viewed each other as threats since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

“Chairman Kim once again clearly expressed his firm commitment to a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Mr. Moon said. “What is not so clear to him is how firmly he can trust the United States’ commitment to ending hostiles relations and providing security guarantees for his government should it denuclearize.”

Mr. Moon said that North Korea and the United States will soon start working-level talks to help narrow the gap between the two sides. He said the results of those talks will help determine whether a summit between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump will take place and, if so, whether it will be successful.

Late Saturday night in Washington, Mr. Trump said that discussions about holding the summit meeting after all were “going on very well” and that there was “a lot of good will” between the parties.

Speaking in the Oval Office, the president said that he still hoped to meet with Mr. Kim on June 12 in Singapore, as originally planned.

“A lot of people are working on it,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s moving along very nicely. We’re looking at June 12 in Singapore. That hasn’t changed. And it’s moving along pretty well, so we’ll see what happens.”

Mr. Trump also made a mysterious allusion to talks about the summit meeting that were taking place near the White House on Saturday evening, but he declined to be more specific. It was unclear whether he was referring to the working-level talks mentioned by Mr. Moon.

“As you know, there are meetings going on as we speak in a certain location, which I won’t name,” he said. “But you’d like the location, it’s not so far away from here.”

In Seoul on Sunday, Mr. Moon said it was Mr. Kim who proposed the second summit meeting between them, suggesting that the young North Korean dictator is keen for the landmark meeting with Mr. Trump to take place.

During their time together, Mr. Moon said he briefed Mr. Kim on his meeting with Mr. Trump in Washington last week, telling the North Korean leader that the United States was willing to end hostile relations and provide economic cooperation with North Korea should it completely denuclearize.

“Since both Chairman Kim and President Trump want a successful summit, I stressed that the two sides need to communicate directly to remove their misunderstandings and to hold sufficient working-level talks on the agenda for the summit meeting,” Mr. Moon said.

“Chairman Kim agreed,” he added.

It was the second meeting in a month by Mr. Moon and Mr. Kim, who held their first summit meeting on the South Korean side of Panmunjom on April 27. The second meeting, held in secret and announced only after it took place, came amid doubts about the future of Mr. Kim’s planned summit meeting with President Trump.

At Saturday’s meeting, Mr. Kim thanked the South Korean president for his efforts to bring about the summit “and expressed his fixed will on the historic D.P.R.K.-U.S. summit talks,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported, using the abbreviation for the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The report by the news agency marked the first time North Korea formally acknowledged there was a plan for Mr. Kim to meet Mr. Trump on June 12, and it also appeared to confirm Mr. Kim’s desire to negotiate face-to-face with the American leader.

Mr. Moon’s government has worked for months to help set up the first meeting between the leaders of North Korea and the United States, where it hoped Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump would resolve a decades-old dispute over the North’s nuclear weapons program.

Mr. Trump’s sudden cancellation of the meeting at first appeared to be a blow to Mr. Moon, who had staked much on brokering it. The announcement by Mr. Trump set off a head-spinning series of diplomatic maneuvers aimed at saving the meeting.

North Korea responded to Mr. Trump’s decision with a surprisingly conciliatory gesture, asking Mr. Trump to reconsider and saying that the North was ready to resume dialogue.

For weeks, Mr. Trump had issued a steady stream of enthusiastic comments and Twitter posts on his planned summit with Mr. Kim, although he also warned it might not happen.

Signs of trouble emerged last week, when North Korea pulled out of planned high-level talks with South Korea, protesting a joint military exercise between the South and the United States, which it called a rehearsal for invasion.

The North then focused its anger on Mr. Trump’s hard-line national security adviser, John R. Bolton, who has said the North must abandon its arsenal before sanctions can be lifted, and Vice President Mike Pence, who warned that North Korea might “end like the Libyan model” if Mr. Kim does not denuclearize.

In 2003, Libya’s former leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, handed over a nascent nuclear weapons program in the hopes of better ties with Washington — only to be killed years later by rebels supported by Washington.

On Thursday, North Korea called Mr. Pence a “political dummy” and warned of a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown” with the United States, threatening to cancel the summit with Mr. Trump. Hours later, Mr. Trump acted first, canceling it.

On Saturday, the White House announced that an advance team would go as scheduled to Singapore “in order to prepare should the summit take place,” according to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting from Washington.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Leaders of Two Koreas Discuss Salvaging Summit Meeting.
Source: The New York Times – Home Page (U.S.) (Sun, 27 May 2018 02:51:47 GMT )


President Trump Cancels North Korea Summit

by Dr. Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | The threat of North Korea is just one of the challenges we face as a nation (Images: Getty Images).

Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.”

With these words, President Trump notified Kim Jong Un yesterday that he was canceling their June 12 summit in Singapore.

This decision followed a series of ominously worded statements from North Korea. Their senior envoy for US affairs had threatened to call off the summit and warned that their regime could “make the US taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined.” The envoy also described Vice President Pence as a “political dummy.”

The White House says back channels for discussions with North Korea are still open but states that the regime must first change its rhetoric.

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A “challenging threat environment”

The threat of North Korea is just one of the challenges we face as a nation.

Russia is believed to have 4,300 nuclear weapons, followed by the US with 4,000. There are 9,400 nuclear weapons in military arsenals, with another 5,600 awaiting dismantlement. Nearly 4,000 nuclear weapons are operationally available; 1,800 are ready for use on short notice.

The largest Russian bomb, if dropped on New York City, would kill 7.6 million people.

In addition, China is expanding its economic and military power and influence. Proxy wars in the Middle East involving Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel threaten to escalate.

Dan Coats, the US Director of National Intelligence, testified earlier this year before a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: “We face a complex, volatile and challenging threat environment. The risk of interstate conflict is higher than any time since the end of the Cold war–all the more alarming because of the growing development and use of weapons of mass destruction by state and nonstate actors.”

A nation worth protecting

The challenges of our day show why the men and women of our military are so important to our nation. More than 1.4 million Americans are serving on active duty today. Each of them has taken an oath to defend each of us.

Over America’s history, more than 1.1 million men and women have fulfilled that oath at the cost of their lives. Their memory lives in our gratitude. All we do this Memorial Day weekend to honor their sacrifice is so much less than they did to deserve it.

How does God want us to observe this important tradition?

One: Minister to the families of fallen soldiers. Scripture tells us that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). He wants us to be the presence of Jesus as we serve and pray for those in grief.

Two: Pray for wisdom for our military and civilian leaders. In these perilous times, claim the biblical promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God” (James 1:5).

Three: Pray for peace among nations. Pray for Kim Jong Un and other world leaders to follow Jesus. Make Paul’s prayer yours: “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).

Four: Make America a nation worthy of their sacrifice. When I meet military veterans, I tell them that our nation owes them an unpayable debt. They often respond by encouraging me to make America a nation worth dying for.

Scripture calls us to set the example: “Be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).

“An estate to be preserved”

Noah Webster has been called “the father of American scholarship and education.” On the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he delivered a remarkable oration in which he pointed to the values and examples of the patriots whose sacrifice purchased America’s freedom.

At one point, he turned to “the youth of our country, who were not spectators of the distresses of the war.” His charge to them is just as relevant for us: “Let them consider that upon them has devolved the task of defending and improving the rich inheritance, purchased by their fathers. Nor let them view this inheritance of National Freedom and Independence, as a fortune that is to be squandered away, in ease and riot, but as an estate to be preserved only by industry, toil and vigilance.”

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For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.



North Korea Sentences Canadian Megachurch Pastor to Life in Prison

by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra Toronto pastor who made hundreds of humanitarian trips dodges death penalty. (Pastor Hyeon-Soo Lim | Light Korean Presbyterian Church)

North Korea has sentenced the pastor of one of Canada's largest churches to life in prison.

Hyeon-Soo Lim, leader of 3,000-member Light Korean Presbyterian Church in suburban Toronto, has been held by North Korea since January, and allegedly confessed in August to conspiring against the government of Kim Jong-Un.

KCNAAccording to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), state prosecutors argued for the death penalty against Lim in Wednesday’s 90-minute trial at the nation's supreme court, reports The New York Times. The defense begged for mercy, pointing to Lim as a fellow Korean and his alleged confession. Lim’s lawyers asked for a life sentence "so that he can witness for himself the reality of the nation of the Sun as it grows in power and prosperity," reports Reuters.

The government accused Lim of “trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system,” among other charges, reports CBC News.

KCNA posted photos of the trial.

The Canadian foreign affairs department called the sentence “unduly harsh” in light of Lim's "age and fragile health."

Lim's megachurch has asked Canada's new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to advocate on the imprisoned pastor's behalf.

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[Originally published on August 3 at 11:50 a.m., entitled “North Korea Reveals Why It Captured Canadian Megachurch Pastor | After hundreds of humanitarian trips, Toronto pastor has been detained since January.”]

After being detained since January, the pastor of one of Canada's largest churches has allegedly confessed to a “subversive plot” to overthrow the North Korean government and to set up a new “religious state,” reports The New York Times.

Hyeon-Soo Lim, leader of 3,000-member Light Korean Presbyterian Church in suburban Toronto, spoke both at a press conference and later at a church service, according to reports by the Hermit Kingdom's state news agency.

"The worst crime I committed was to rashly defame and insult the highest dignity and the system of the republic," Lim told a Pyongyang congregation, apparently reading from a script.

Detaining Christian foreigners is somewhat of a North Korean tradition, but accusing them of planning to set up a theocracy is new, AsiaNews said.

Lim has been held by the North Korean government since January, when the 60-year-old was scheduled to spend a few days there on humanitarian work. His church has worked in North Korea for almost 20 years, and Lim has made hundreds of trips to oversee a nursing home and orphanage there, said church spokesperson Lisa Pak.

"That's the most that we know, that the press conference happened and he admitted, I use that word very lightly, to some charges," Pak told Reuters.

The church released a statement after Lim’s confession:

The family and church are eager to have Mr. Lim home after close to 7 months in detention in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. There are no comments regarding the charges and allegations made against Mr. Lim except that the humanitarian aid projects that Mr. Lim has both initiated and supported in the DPRK have been for the betterment of the people. It is this tremendous love for the people of the DPRK that motivated Mr. Lim to travel to the nation over 100 times. He remains a compassionate and generous man and we hope to see him home soon. We are grateful for all those who share in our concerns and ask for your continued prayers and support.

Lim was born in South Korea, and immigrated to Canada with his family in 1986, where he helped to grow his church from five families to more than 3,000 people.

“You can imagine that, being ethnically Korean, there is a personal investment in the people of Korea,” Pak told the Toronto Star when he was first detained. She told CNN it was unlikely that Lim was proselytizing while he was there.

"He knows the language, he knows the nature of the government, so we don't see that as a legitimate reason that he would be detained," she said. "We don't believe that's the way he would have behaved. He's very wise about that."

The Canadian government has severed consular ties with North Korea, but Sweden has an embassy in Pyongyang and does some diplomatic work for Canada. Reuters reported in March that the Swedish ambassador was pressing for a meeting with an unidentified Canadian citizen detained there.

"We continue to advocate for consular access and for a resolution in his case," stated Canada’s Foreign Affairs department.

Lim follows a spate of Western missionaries who have been arrested in North Korea, which has spent the last 13 years topping Open Doors’ World Watch List as the worst place for Christians to live. An estimated 70,000 Christians are held in prison camps there.

In November, the North Korean government released American missionary Kenneth Bae after two years in captivity. Also in 2014, North Korea detained American Jeffrey Fowles for leaving behind a Bible, and arrested and released Australian missionary John Short, 75, for spreading Bible tracts near a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang.

American missionary Robert Park deliberately got himself arrested and spent six weeks in a North Korean prison in 2010, saying his goal was “to proclaim Christ’s love and forgiveness” to Kim Jong Il and to call for the release of political prisoners. "My hope was, through sacrifice, that maybe there would be repentance and people could come together to address issues in North Korea," Park told CT in an exclusive interview.

South Korean Baptist missionary Kim Jong-Uk is still imprisoned after after receiving a life sentence in June for allegedly working with underground churches.

Go to Christianity Today for the original article.