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NUKEWARS
Trump to host S.Korea's Moon for N.Korea talks
By Thomas WATKINS
Washington (AFP) June 13, 2017


Seoul says North Korean soldier defects across DMZ
Seoul (AFP) June 13, 2017 - A North Korean soldier escaped to South Korea Tuesday evening by walking across the Demilitarised Zone that bisects the peninsula, Seoul's defence ministry said.

The soldier, who has not been publicly identified, approached a South Korean border guard post and expressed a wish to defect, the ministry said in a statement.

"We are holding him to investigate the motive and the process of his defection," it said without giving further details.

There was no exchange of fire during the incident, Yonhap news agency cited a military official as saying.

Over the decades since the peninsula was divided, dozens of North Korean soldiers have fled to the South through the zone which extends for two km either side of the actual border.

The most recent such case was in September last year. Prior to that, a teenage North Korean soldier defected in June 2015.

In 2012 a North Korean soldier walked unchecked through rows of electrified fencing and surveillance cameras, prompting Seoul to sack three field commanders for a security lapse.

More than 30,000 North Korean civilians have fled their homeland but it is very rare for them to cross the closely guarded inter-Korean border, which is fortified with minefields and barbed wire.

Most flee across the porous frontier with neighbouring China.

President Donald Trump will host South Korea's new leader Moon Jae-In for talks on containing North Korea's nuclear program, officials said Tuesday, amid fresh Pentagon warnings that the Pyongyang regime is a "clear and present danger to all."

A White House statement said the two leaders will meet June 29-30 to discuss ways of building on what America frequently calls its "ironclad" alliance with South Korea.

Moon, a center-left politician who was sworn in last month after a landslide election win, favors engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table, rather than the hardline stance taken by the conservative government of his ousted predecessor Park Geun-Hye.

Trump too has signalled a willingness to try a different tack with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Though he often denounced China on the campaign trail, Trump is now leaning on Beijing to help rein in its ally North Korea's weapons program, a move that has sparked anguish among Asian allies who fret China might exact a quid pro quo to make Washington go easy on other regional issues.

News of the talks comes as Trump's top military officials, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis and General Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that the threat from North Korea has not diminished.

Mattis called North Korea the "most urgent and dangerous threat" to peace and security, and said its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them has increased in pace and scope.

"The regime's nuclear weapons program is a clear and present danger to all, and the regime's provocative actions, manifestly illegal under international law, have not abated despite United Nations' censure and sanctions," the defense chief said in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday morning.

Dunford underscored these concerns and said North Korea has "demonstrated a willingness" to use malicious cyber tools against governments and industry.

Pyongyang has test-fired a string of missiles this year, building on launches and atomic tests that have ratcheted up tensions over its quest to develop weapons capable of hitting the United States -- something Trump has vowed "won't happen."

- Missile defense -

Trump and Moon will likely discuss a controversial US missile defense system that has been installed in South Korea to guard against North Korean missile threats.

Though parts of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system are already in place, Moon last week suspended further deployment following a furious campaign of economic sanctions and diplomatic protests by Beijing against the US missile shield, dealing a blow to Washington's regional security policy.

Officially, the delay is to allow for a new, comprehensive environmental impact assessment, but analysts say the move is a strategic delay by Moon to dodge the tricky diplomatic situation he inherited.

Trump and Moon will seek to "advance cooperation on economic and global issues" and "will also coordinate on North Korea-related issues, including countering the growing North Korean nuclear and missile threats," the White House statement read.

Despite tough talk from the Trump administration, officials accept they have no easy options when it comes to dealing with North Korea militarily.

"It would be a war like nothing we have seen since 1953," Mattis said Monday, pointing to the end of the Korean War. "It would be a very, very serious war."

NUKEWARS
N Korea fires volley of cruise missiles, fifth test in a month
Seoul (AFP) June 8, 2017
North Korea launched a volley of surface-to-ship cruise missiles off its east coast Thursday, Seoul's defence ministry said, Pyongyang's fifth test in less than a month in defiance of global pressure to rein in its weapons program. The launches come less than a week after the United Nations expanded sanctions against Kim Jong-Un's regime in response to recent ballistic missile tests. "No ... read more

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