Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Stephanie Nebehay / Reuters – 2016-11-18 19:52:25
Trump, Putin Agree to Normalize US-Russia Ties
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 14, 2016) — Officials have confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President-elect Donald Trump spoke on the phone on Monday evening. Putin is said to have called Trump to congratulate him on winning last week’s presidential election.
The two are said to have agreed on the need to resolve “extremely unsatisfactory” Russo-American relations, planning for a personal meeting and joint work toward the normalization of ties between the two major nations. According to the Kremlin, the agreement was for a dialogue “on the basis of equality, mutual respect, and non-intervention in each other’s domestic affairs.”
Such a productive first phone call is unsurprising, as during the campaign Trump had talked of improving relations with Russia, and since the election Russian government officials have said they saw the election of Trump as America’s rejection of Hillary Clinton’s calls for further hostility toward Russia.
This is the first major attempt to improve relations between the two sides since the 2009 “reset,” which came in the wake of President Obama’s election. That reset was mostly forgotten by the late years of the Obama presidency, with the US launching a massive military buildup along Russia’s border in Eastern Europe, and the two sides engaged in a virtual proxy war in Syria.
While the 2009 “reset” was mostly aimed at getting access to Russian airspace for supply shipments for the Afghan War, the Trump normalization effort is likely to be much more ambitious, with Trump expressing his aversion to hostility toward nuclear-armed Russia, and already talking about a dramatic shift in Syria policy which would see the US ending support for the rebellion against Syria, a key Russian ally.
All conversations between Putin and Trump are likely to be heavily scrutinized, however, as the Clinton campaign didn’t just campaign on its own hostility toward Russia, but accused Russia of plotting to get Trump elected. With post-election acrimony within the US still high a week later, those allegations arr likely to remain a talking point for many opposed to normalization.
North Korea Open to Normalizing Ties If
Trump Withdraws From Korean Peninsula
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 17, 2016) — In an interview today in Geneva, Switzerland, North Korea’s Ambassador So Se Pyong expressed his country’s interest in ending the Korean War, technically still ongoing since it began in 1950. He also suggested that if President-elect Trump follows through on withdrawing from the Korean Peninsula, North Korea would be interested in normalizing ties with the United States.
Trump had suggested during the campaign that the US spends far too much defending rich nations like Japan and South Korea, and said he would considering pulling US troops off the Korean Peninsula. Last week, South Korean officials claimed Trump called to assure them that he wasn’t going to actually do so.
The ambassador insisted that absent a deal, North Korea will continue to pursue its nuclear program as a second track. North Korea has tested nuclear weapons underground, though it is unclear if they have anything in a deliverable size. North Korea often makes claims that their technically is far beyond what it actually is.
North Korea has, however, repeatedly expressed interest in a peace deal that would end the Korean War, and has repeatedly had those overtures rejected by US officials. Whether this changes under Trump, with or without a troop pullout, remains to be seen.
North Korea Says It Could Renew
Ties with US under Trump if Troops Go
Stephanie Nebehay / Reuters
GENEVA (November 17, 2016) — If a US administration of Donald Trump withdraws troops and equipment from South Korea and secures a peace treaty ending war on the peninsula, it could lead to normalizing relations with North Korea, a Pyongyang envoy told Reuters on Thursday.
But for now North Korea will pursue its policy of “simultaneous development” of both its nuclear program and the economy, So Se Pyong, North Korea’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva said. “It will be continued.”
So spoke in an interview at the diplomatic mission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in Geneva, as North Korean officials began “unofficial and informal discussions” with US academics and former US officials in the Swiss city.
“The (DPRK) delegation is here now. But as you know, it is a ‘Track 2’,” he said, referring to the latest informal meeting in a series this year. The two countries have had no official dialogue since Kim Jong Un assumed power in 2011.
Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s negotiator for the stalled talks on its nuclear program, leads the four-person team, he said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, rattled by Trump’s campaign rhetoric that cast doubt on longstanding US alliances, meets the US president-elect on Thursday in New York for hastily-arranged talks.
North Korea has carried out repeated nuclear and missile tests in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions.
Trump told Reuters in an interview in May he was willing to talk to Kim Jong Un to try to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear program – a major shift in US policy toward the isolated nation – but has also called for China to do more to rein in its ally.
So, asked about North Korea’s views on resuming dialogue, following Trump’s remarks, replied: “The meeting is up to the decision of my Supreme Leader.”
“If he (Trump) really gives up the hostile policy towards DPRK, withdrawing all the military equipment from South Korea, including the US troops and coming to conclude the peace treaty, then I think it might be an opportunity to discuss the relations as we did in the 1990s.”
There are about 28,500 US troops based in South Korea helping to defend the country against nuclear-armed North Korea, which has remained in a technical state of war with the South since the 1950-53 Korean conflict.
The Obama administration’s lack of engagement had allowed Pyongyang to develop its nuclear program and “lighten the weapon warheads”, said So.
Trump pledged his commitment to defending South Korea under an existing security alliance during a phone call with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, her office said a week ago.
So denounced a draft resolution approved in a UN General Assembly committee last week condemning “widespread and gross violations of human rights” in his country. He expected the text to go before the General Assembly next month.
So, asked whether North Korea feared the Security Council could take up the issue and try to refer alleged human rights violations to the International Criminal Court, replied:
“They know that without the full approval of Security Council, it cannot be done. They also know that some countries will exercise their vote, the veto. Not only China but also Russia.”
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