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World European Parliament in 'secret' talks with North Korea

18:32  14 march  2018
18:32  14 march  2018 Source:   afp.com

North Korea says Trump's preconditions for talks are "preposterous"

  North Korea says Trump's preconditions for talks are <p>North Korea says President Trump's demand that it abandon its nuclear program as a precondition to diplomatic negotiations is "preposterous," ruling out the possibility in a new statement Sunday. On Saturday, Mr. Trump addressed the possibility of negotiations with the North during an otherwise light-hearted speech at the annual Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night.</p>"Now we are talking and they, by the way, called up a couple of days ago. They said that, 'We would like to talk.' And I said, 'So would we, but you have to denuke, you have to denuke,"' Mr. Trump told attendees at the dinner, according to a pool report of his remarks.

Slideshow by photo services

A European Parliament delegation said on Wednesday it has been conducting secret talks with North Korea over the last three years to try to persuade Pyongyang to negotiate an end to its nuclear program.

South Korean K-Pop singers to perform in North Korea

  South Korean K-Pop singers to perform in North Korea South Korea said Tuesday it will send a 160-member artistic group to North Korea, including about 10 celebrated K-Pop singers, for rare concerts there.The South Korean musical artists will visit Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, from March 31 to April 3 and give two performances, according to a joint statement issued after the two Koreas met at a border village.The development comes during a thaw in the North Korean nuclear crisis. A North Korean band performed in South Korea during the recently ended Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The group led by British lawmaker Nirj Deva has met senior North Korean officials, including ministers, 14 times and plans another meeting in Brussels in the near future.

News of the below-the-radar diplomacy effort comes after the surprise announcement that U.S. President Donald Trump plans a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, part of fast-paced developments following an Olympic detente.

Deva said he and his colleagues on the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the Korean Peninsula had been "relentlessly advocating the case for dialogue without preconditions" to end the increasingly tense nuclear standoff with the North.

"I did much of the advocacy in secrecy with my colleagues. It is only now that I am revealing our efforts to a wider audience in the light of the proposed talks," Deva said.

The group also met senior officials in the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea, Deva said, for dialogue aimed at achieving a "verifiable denuclearized Korean peninsula."

"We met in secret with senior North Koreans on 14 occasions. We understood their concerns and they understand ours," he told a press conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Hopes raised for detente 

The MEPs held regular clandestine meetings with the North Koreans in Brussels, Deva said, listening to their concerns and trying to convince them of the risks of nuclear war.

"We told them in no uncertain terms that if they carry on with the missile program and the nuclear bomb program they will only lead to an inevitable conclusion which is unthinkable," Deva said.

EU diplomacy is normally carried out by the bloc's dedicated foreign affairs department, which has diplomatic missions all around the world. Deva said his delegation had a role to play in developing "confidence building measures" to support the planned U.S.-North Korea dialogue.

And Deva said that from his meetings he believed the tough sanctions the EU has in place against North Korea had been an important factor in driving Pyongyang to agree to talks.

"Part of the reason that this happened was the sanctions started to bite poor people — not the elite," he said.

The sudden announcement of the summit between Kim and Trump and Pyongyang's reported willingness to discuss ending its nuclear program have raised hopes of a detente after months of tension.

As well as the Kim-Trump meeting, North and South Korea are also planning a summit next month.

South Korea says North Korea agrees to hold high-level talks .
South Korea said Saturday that North Korea has accepted its proposal to hold high-level inter-Korean talks next week. Load Error In a statement, South Korea's Unification Ministry said the talks are planned for Thursday.The talks were first proposed by South Korea to be held in the Panmunjom truce village in the Korean Demilitarized Zone.North Korea said it will be represented by a three-member delegation led by Ri Son Kwon, chairman of the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland Committee.South Korea stated earlier that its three-member delegation will be led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.

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