Top aides to the leaders of North and South Korea met at the Panmunjom truce village straddling their border yesterday, raising hopes for an end to a standoff that put the rivals on the brink of armed conflict.
The meeting at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) village, known for its sky-blue huts and grim-faced soldiers, was set for half an hour after North Korea’s previously set ultimatum demanding that the South halt its loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the border or face military action.
That deadline passed without any reported incidents.
Tension on the Korean Peninsula has been running high since an exchange of artillery fire on Thursday, prompting calls for calm from the UN, the US and North Korea’s only major ally, China. South Korea’s military remained on high alert despite the announced talks, a South Korean Ministry of Defense official said.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s national security adviser and her unification minister met North Korean National Defense Commission Vice Chairman Hwang Pyong-so, who is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s top military aide, at 6pm.
“The South and the North agreed to hold contact related to the ongoing situation in South-North relations,” Blue House deputy national security adviser Kim Kyou-hyun said in a televised briefing.
Pyongyang on Friday made an initial proposal for a meeting, and Seoul made a revised proposal yesterday seeking Hwang’s attendance, Kim said.
The North’s KCNA news agency also announced the meeting, referring to the South as the Republic of Korea, a rare formal recognition of its rival state, in sharp contrast to the bellicose rhetoric in recent days.
“They need to come up with some sort of an agreement where both sides have saved face. That would be the trick,” Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies academic James Kim said. “North Korea will probably demand that the broadcasts be cut, and they may even come to an impasse on that issue.”
North Korea, technically still at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, had declared a “quasi-state of war” in front-line areas and set the deadline for Seoul to halt the broadcasts from loudspeakers placed along the border.
“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is now inching close to the brink of a war due to the reckless provocations made by the South Korean military war hawks,” the North’s KCNA news agency said earlier.
“The fact that these powerful officials who represent South and North Korea’s leaders are meeting means this is a great time to turn the crisis into opportunity,” Seou’s University of North Korean Studies professor Yang Moo-jin said. “It is a breakthrough.”
IF THE CHIPS ARE DOWN: The US secretary of state warned that a disruption to the supply of Taiwanese semiconductors would play havoc with the global economy If Taiwan were attacked, the global economy would face devastation, as that is where most of the world’s semiconductors are produced, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday. In an interview that aired on the 60 Minutes television program, Blinken was asked whether instability across the Taiwan Strait would be felt around the world. Blinken said that China has been increasingly aggressive against Taiwan, posing a threat to peace and stability in the region, while economically the world would feel the effects of such aggression. Blinken was interviewed for the program after meeting with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi
‘ABSURD’: UN Resolution 2758 expelled the Chiang Kai-Shek government without mentioning Taipei, something the Chinese minister did not acknowledge, Taipei said Taiwan yesterday criticized Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) for “intentionally misinterpreting” a 1971 UN resolution to misrepresent Taiwan’s status to the global community. In his address on Saturday to the UN General Assembly, Wang cited Resolution 2758 as a basis for Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China. He said that Beijing considers Taiwan an “inseparable part of China’s territory since ancient times.” “Only when China is completely reunified can there be enduring peace across the Taiwan Strait... Any move to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history,” Wang said. General Assembly Resolution 2758
MORE ARRIVALS ALLOWED: Taiwan yesterday increased its cap on arrivals to 60,000 from 50,000 ahead of a full border opening with a weekly cap of 150,000 on Oct. 13 Travelers arriving in Taiwan from Oct. 13 would no longer be required to quarantine on arrival and visitors of all nationalities would be allowed to enter, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced yesterday. However, the number of arrivals would be capped at 150,000 per week, he added. Travelers aged two or older would be given four rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits on arrival and be asked to monitor their health for seven days, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference. Under the new arrival protocol, travelers would have to take a test on the day of arrival or the day after, followed
The UK is determined to work with its allies to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself, British Prime Minister Liz Truss said on Sunday, a pledge that drew expressions of gratitude from Taipei. “What I’ve been clear about is that all of our allies need to make sure Taiwan is able to defend itself, and that is very, very important,” Truss said in a CNN interview, when asked whether the UK was willing to match the US’ pledge last week to defend Taiwan militarily in the event of an attack by China. Truss said her government was working with its G7 allies,