US strategists are exploring how to implement a peace accord to officially end the 1950 to 1953 Korean War and hope to start discussions with North Korea as soon as the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
North Korea is expected to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor in the next few days in return for an aid shipment of 50,000 tonnes of fuel oil, a sign the Pyongyang government is moving ahead with its disarmament pledge, the Journal said on its online edition, citing senior US officials.
If the disarmament process proceeds, the Bush administration hopes to start discussing a formal peace treaty with Pyongyang by year-end, the journal said, citing Christopher Hill, the assistant secretary of state leading Washington's talks with North Korea.
Some officials in Washington hope the six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear program can evolve into a permanent forum for defusing security threats in Northeast Asia at a time when both Japan and China are bulking up militarily, the report said.
A truce has prevailed on the Korean peninsula since 1953. A formal peace treaty could coincide with the formation of a regional security body to resolve security disputes, along the lines of the ASEAN, the report said.
Washington officials stressed that pursuing broader regional security aims in Northeast Asia would be contingent upon North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's regime permanently dismantling its nuclear-arms programs, the Journal said.
Meanwhile, UN inspectors were hoping to return to North Korea in about a week to help Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear program and re-establish a presence that ended when they were expelled five years ago, diplomats said on Sunday.
The diplomats, speaking on the eve of a special meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-state board that is expected to approve the mission, emphasized that the dates of return -- either Saturday or July 17 -- were tentative.
"They need to be confirmed by the North Koreans," said one of the diplomats, speaking by telephone from IAEA headquarters.
While approval was a virtual certainty, the question of funding -- of the North Korea mission and of the agency in general -- had still to be decided.
One diplomat said Washington "is prepared to pay quite a bit and we expect pledges from the floor" during the board meeting yesterday.
Also see story:
Don't expect North Korea to just roll over
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,
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no