A senior US official said yesterday there was some progress made, but “no breakthrough” at this week’s meeting with North Korea aimed at restarting long-stalled nuclear disarmament talks.
US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell was speaking after briefing South Korea about the talks in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday.
“I think it will be fair to say we did make some progress. There was no breakthrough. There is a substantial amount of work that needs to be done. No decisions have been taken about next steps,” Campbell told reporters.
“We clearly stated our position on pre-steps,” he said without elaborating.
The North formally quit the six-party nuclear talks in April 2009, a month before staging its second atomic weapons test.
It has since repeatedly said it wants to come back without preconditions to the negotiations, which group the two Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan.
Washington and its allies say Pyongyang must first take steps to show its sincerity, such as shutting down a uranium enrichment plant that could be converted to make nuclear weapons.
North Korea said yesterday the Geneva talks made progress and the two sides would hold further meetings.
“Both sides decided to further ... contacts and talks to discuss and solve the pending issues in the light of building confidence,” a foreign ministry spokesman told Pyongyang’s official news agency.
However, the spokesman reiterated that the full six-nation nuclear negotiations should restart without any preconditions.
Campbell, who is wrapping up an Asia trip that took him to Indonesia and the Philippines, arrived in Seoul early yesterday for a stopover to meet South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Jae-shin.
“One of the reasons that we are here is to begin the process of deep discussions with South Korea so that we can plot our course going forward [on nuclear issues],” Campbell said.
He said that the US side in Geneva stressed the need for the North to engage in dialogue with the South.
Meanwhile, South Korean troops launched a major exercise yesterday near the tense sea border with North Korea as the US and South Korean defense chiefs discussed ways to thwart potential attacks by the North.
The two-day drill was being staged near Baengnyeong, a frontline island in the Yellow Sea, as part of a nationwide exercise that will last until next Friday, military authorities said.
“This is a joint drill involving Marines, jet fighters, naval ships and army troops,” a South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said, adding that there would be live-fire exercises.
South Korea has staged a series of drills alone or jointly with US troops since Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing a warship near the island with the loss of 46 lives in March last year.
Military officials have not given troop numbers for the nationwide exercise. Yonhap news agency said it would involve 140,000 troops including about 500 US Marines and sailors. No US troops are taking part in the two-day drill in the Yellow Sea.
The drill came as US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta met his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan-jin at the start of an annual security meeting to discuss their joint defense posture.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged