평화/화해

NORTH KOREA: US commander in SKorea says threat

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기사연
작성일
2001-04-02 00:09
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1001
NORTH KOREA: US commander in SKorea says threat from north increased
>>despite famine // South Korea says it did not press for EU peace initiative
>>
>>*********************************************
>>
>>US commander in SKorea says threat from north increased despite famine
>>by Eileen Byrne
>
>>WASHINGTON, March 27 (AFP) - General Thomas Schwartz, commander of the US
>>forces in South Korea, told a congressional committee Tuesday that over the past year the military threat from North Korea had increased, despite the continuing famine there.
>
>>"The (military) threat is more serious today than it was last year when I testified," Schwartz told the US Senate's armed services committee. North Korea was "bigger, better, closer, deadlier," its armed forces were training at a higher level, and it continued to sell missiles abroad, he said.
>>Asked about the extent of famine in North Korea, Schwartz said that it was difficult to get accurate information on this.
>
>>The North Korean authorities had announced that 250,000 people had died of starvation over the past 18-24 months, he said.
>
>>"We have estimations up to one million died of starvation in the same period of time," Schwartz said. "It's serious, extensive and it's continuing."
>
>>Schwartz said military was waiting to be notified of any new policy focus by the administration of President George W. Bush.
>
>>"I would not recommend any kind of reduction of forces in the Korean
Peninsula at this time," he told the senators, who were reviewing the US
armed forces budget recommendations for the fiscal year beginning in
October. Some of the committee members were interested in identifying areas where the deployment of US forces abroad could be cut back. Schwartz acknowledged that the US commitment in South Korea represented a substantial demand on resources.
>
>>He argued for better pay and conditions for troops serving there, and said the plans to consolidate the 45 major US military installations in South Korea to 25 would enhance troops' quality of life and improve their
security. But any cutback in the numbers of US troops stationed in South Korea could only result from an improved political climate, Schwartz said: "If in the future, we go down the path of reconciliation (and) confidence-building measures that are verifiable and reciprocal, if we see that the North takes the actions, not the words... to reduce the threat, then there could be a concomitant reduction in troops."
>
>>On North Korea's missile exports, Schwartz said it had sold missiles to
Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and Egypt. North Korea was "the
number-one proliferator of missiles in the world," he said.
>
>>However Admiral Dennis Blair, commander-in-chief of the US Pacific Command, told the committee that North Korea had continued to observe the moratorium on missile testing that has been in force in recent years, and therefore would not have had the opportunity to test the missiles.
>
>>"The moratorium on testing missiles, which the North Koreans have undertaken to maintain as long as negotiations with the United States continue, has in fact continued. "And although the North Koreans seem uniquely capable of selling missiles which haven't been tested, and some fool countries seem uniquely capable of buying them, even though they don't know if the damn things work or not, they have not in fact fired them since that time," Blair said.
>
>>Copyright (c) 2001 Agence France-Presse
>
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>>
>>South Korea says it did not press for EU peace initiative by Tim Witcher
>
>>SEOUL, March 28 (AFP) - The South Korean government insisted Wednesday it did not ask the European Union to launch a Korean peninsula peace initiative but said it still supported the move.
>
>>With the Seoul government actively trying to strengthen ties with
Washington, new Foreign Minister Han Seung-Soo took European governments by surprise with remarks that appeared to distance him from the EU initiative announced last weekend.
>
The 15-nation EU decided at a summit to send Swedish Prime Minister Goeran
Persson at the head of a delegation to North and South Korea. The two rivals have made major strides toward reconciliation in the past year but have yet to officially end the 1950-53 Korean War.

"It's their independent initiative," Han told a US journalist in a
>>conversation. "We wouldn't like to see the EU's visit misconstrued by others as if we asked them."
>
>>Diplomats at several leading EU embassies expressed surprise at the remarks by the minister, who was only appointed Monday. It would be "abrupt and counter-productive" for the minister to say at this
stage that South Korea did not want the initiative, said one European
diplomat.
>
>>The foreign ministry denied the comments indicated South Korea was cool
toward the EU mission however. But the South Korean government has sought to counter reports that it had asked Europe to launch the initiative amid a new tough Washington line with the communist North.
>
>>"We have released a statement saying we welcome the move. We welcome
>>anything that strengthens President Kim's 'Sunshine Policy'," said a senior foreign ministry official. Han was named foreign minister in a major reshuffle of foreign and security policymakers seen as signalling President Kim Dae-Jung's determination to pursue his "Sunshine Policy" of engagement with the North.
>
>>Following a Washington summit at which President George W. Bush expressed scepticism about North Korea's desire for change, President Kim's new cabinet now has more US specialists who could win over US leaders. Han was an ambassador to Washington in the early 1990s.
>
Han and new Defence Minister Kim Dong-Shin both emphasised the need to
strengthen ties with the United States as they took up their posts Tuesday.
>>Bush's decision to freeze talks with the North on its weapons programme has caused concern in Seoul and been openly criticised in the United States, which has played the lead role in countering the North since the Korean War. It still has 37,000 troops in the South.
>
But Europe's importance has grown as most EU nations have opened diplomatic relations with the North since the historic summit last June between the leaders of the rival North and South.
>
The North has sought closer ties to Europe at the same time as it has
expressed growing anger with the Bush administration. A commentary in the ruling party's Rodong Sinmun on Tuesday accused the United States of putting a "time bomb" under their fragile relations. On Wednesday, the North pulled out of a joint Korean team for the world table tennis championships next month. This was believed to be a new political
move in anger at South Korea's response to the new US administration.
The Swedish prime minister is expected to visit Pyongyang and Seoul in late April or early May in what the EU has said would be a bid to strengthen the reconciliation process.
>
>>EU officials have said Persson will insist on meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il for talks on sensitive human rights issues as well as weapons. Ronald Meinhardus, Seoul representative for the Freidrich-Naumann
foundation, a German which promotes democracy, said "many Koreans are still shaken after the not-so successful summit in Washington.
>
"But from what I can gather with decision-makers, this country is still
trying to move away from its one-sided reliance on the United States."
>
>>Copyright (c) 2001 Agence France-Presse

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