North Korea decries breakdown of talks US says were ‘good’

North Korean negotiator Kim Miyong Gil, center, reads statement outside the North Korean embassy in Stockholm on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP)
Updated 06 October 2019

North Korea decries breakdown of talks US says were ‘good’

  • The North Korean negotiator: Talks in Stockholm had ‘not fulfilled our expectations and broke down’
  • In February, second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Vietnam stalled

HELSINKI: North Korea’s chief negotiator said that nuclear talks with the US had broken down, but Washington maintained the two sides had “good discussions” in Sweden that it intends to build on in two weeks.
The North Korean negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, said the talks in Stockholm on Saturday had “not fulfilled our expectations and broke down. I am very displeased about it.”
Speaking outside the North Korean Embassy, he said that negotiations broke down “entirely because the US has not discarded its old stance and attitude” and came to a negotiating table with an “empty hand.”
Saturday’s talks were the first between the US and North Korea since the February breakdown of the second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Vietnam. The two leaders held a brief, impromptu meeting at the Korean border in late June and agreed to restart diplomacy.
North Korea has since resumed missile and other weapons tests, including the first test of an underwater-launched missile in three years that fell inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone Wednesday.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Kim’s comments did “not reflect the content or the spirit” of the “good discussions” that took place over 8 ½ hours, adding that the US accepted an invitation from Sweden to return to Stockholm in two weeks to continue discussions. Kim, the North Korean negotiator, said North Korea proposed a suspension of talks until December.
The Vietnam summit fell apart because Trump rejected Kim Jong Un’s calls for extensive sanctions relief in return for dismantling his main nuclear complex, a partial disarmament step. North Korea has since demanded the United States come up with mutually acceptable proposals to salvage the nuclear diplomacy by the end of this year.
During the Stockholm meeting, Kim Myong Gil said North Korea made it clear that the two countries can discuss next denuclearization steps by North Korea if the United States “sincerely responds” to the previous North Korean measures including the suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests and closing its underground nuclear testing site. He called the North Korean stance “practical and reasonable.”
Kim repeated North Korea’s previous statement that the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will only be possible when “all hurdles endangering our safety and obstructing our development are removed clearly and undoubtedly.” He said whether North Korea will lift its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests is completely up to the United States.
North Korea has said it was compelled to develop nuclear weapons to cope with a US military threat. Before entering nuclear disarmament negotiations early last year, North Korea had argued it won’t abandon its nuclear program unless the United States withdraw its 28,500 troops from South Korea, end its military drills with South Korea and take other steps that guarantee North Korea’s security.
In a statement, Ortagus said the US delegation “previewed a number of new initiatives that would allow us to make progress in each of the four pillars” of a joint statement issued after Trump and Kim’s first summit in Singapore.
“The United States and the DPRK will not overcome a legacy of 70 years of war and hostility on the Korean Peninsula through the course of a single Saturday,” Ortagus said. The DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.
Talks were held at the Villa Elfvik Strand conference facility in Lidingo, an island in the Stockholm archipelago located northeast of the capital, Swedish news agency TT said. It added that Kim Myong Gil arrived on Thursday while US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun came on Friday.
Because the US does not have official diplomatic relations with North Korea, Sweden has often acted as a bridge between Washington and Pyongyang.


Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.