Monday, 23 July, 2018

North Korea fuel prices surge after China cuts oil supplies

Frederick Owens | 18 July, 2017, 04:32

The offer of talks, the first since South Korea elected dovish President Moon Jae-In, came as the Red Cross in Seoul proposed a separate meeting to discuss reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

Seoul's Unification Ministry says these latest proposals are in line with President Moon Jae-in's dual track policy to pursue both engagement with the Kim Jong Un government while also supporting USA led sanctions to pressure Pyongyang to halt its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs.

"Meeting with their families while they are alive must be prioritized more than any other political concerns", said Kim Sun-hyang, acting president of South Korea's Red Cross.

South Korea proposed military talks and family reunions with North Korea on Monday to reduce the increasing potential for conflict over Pyongyang's continued development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon urges North Korea to accept the government's dialogue offer on July 17, 2017. Analysts say South Korea may be willing to suspend loudspeaker broadcasts at the border that are highly critical of the North Korean leader to re-establish contact. Official talks between the sides have not been held since December 2015.

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It is hoped that if the talks go through, the two countries can also avoid any hostile acts on the heavily fortified border that have previously led to heightened tensions.

David Petraeus, the retired general and former Central Intelligence Agency director, said the USA needs to continue tightening sanctions on North Korea to get the country's "attention" and persuade it to accept a diplomatic accord over its nuclear arsenal. North Korea says the South abducted the 12 waitresses and the restaurant manager and has demanded their return, but the South has said the group chose to defect of its own free will.

"It would at least help let off some steam out of the current crisis, although the North would still maintain that it would not give up its weapons programmes", he said. "There will be a response from North Korea".

That latest launch prompted the U.S.to warn it would consider all options, including cutting trade with countries that continue to do business with the regime, even though North Korea's top trade partner - China - is also the U.S.'s. But the North might set a precondition for the talks, such as a suspension of annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal, according to Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul's Dongguk University. Initial reports indicated that it landed within the exclusive economic zone of our ally, Japan, a country where we have tens of thousands of American service members, civilian employees and family members stationed, as well as ships, aircraft and bases.

The reunions are a highly emotional issue because most applicants are in their 70s or 80s and are desperate to see their loved ones before they die.

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