South Korea outlined plans to intensify diplomatic pressure on North Korea yesterday, after its unpredictable communist neighbor said it would expel UN inspectors and press on with its nuclear program.
The US, keen to maintain its focus on Iraq, told North Korea it sought a peaceful end to the crisis on the world's last Cold War frontier, but insisted it would not negotiate under duress.
As Washington and its allies cast around for a way to stop the country restarting a reactor capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, North Korea's enigmatic leader, Kim Jong-il, relaxed at a concert where an army choir praised him in song.
The Bush administration, banking on diplomacy to bring Kim back into line, said the impoverished country's relations with the outside world hinged on an end to its nuclear weapons program.
"The United States will not negotiate in response to threats or broken commitments," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said after China and Russia called for dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.
In Crawford, Texas, where US President George W. Bush is spending New Year at his ranch, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the use of force was not under consideration.
"We continue to seek a peaceful resolution of the situation ... ," McClellan said on Friday.
"We will continue our consultations with friends and allies."
Isolated since the end of the Cold War, North Korea has suffered economic collapse and food shortages that have killed two million people and left about a third of its 22 million population dependent on foreign food aid.
The North's Korean Central News Agency accused Washington on Friday of seeking to overthrow its political system. Yesterday it carried a report on Kim's concert.
"Kim Jong-il congratulated the artistes of the chorus ... and highly appreciated the feats they have performed in encouraging the army and people in their sacred struggle to defend the socialist system of the country," it said.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did