Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan (far left, background) and North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun (right, wearing glasses) separately talk with other diplomats as they make a courtesy visit to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Photo: Yonhap)
DPRK Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun (Pak U’i-ch’un) arrived in Phnom Pehnh on Wednesday (11 July) for ASEAN’s Regional Forum [ARF]. On Thursday (12 July), Pak delivered the DPRK’s official position about its nuclear programs and ballistic missile/rocket tests. In his remarks Pak “called for the repeal of the US hostile policy toward it.” KCNA reports:
Exposing the ever-more undisguised U.S. political and military provocation moves against the DPRK, he stressed that all facts clearly prove the U.S. is the real provocateur, the very one scrapping the armistice agreement and the arch criminal escalating tensions.
The DPRK’s nuclear deterrent for self-defence will steadily be bolstered up as long as there continues the U.S. hostile policy, he said, condemning the present south Korean authorities for acting the role of a shock brigade in screwing up tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
In order to defuse the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and defend peace there, it is important to correctly find out the cause of tensions and the realistic way for overcoming it, he said, emphasizing three points.
Firstly, it is necessary to correctly understand the aim of the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and its danger.
The U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK that has lasted for more than half a century is strategically aimed to stamp out the idea and the social system chosen by the Korean people, swallow up the whole of the Korean Peninsula and thus attain military hegemony in Northeast Asia.
Secondly, to repeal the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK is a key to settling the issue of the Korean Peninsula.
No solution of problem can be expected as long as there exists the U.S. hostile policy seeking to stifle the DPRK at any cost while regarding it as a target of hostility for the reason that it has differing idea and social system.
Thirdly, the repeal of the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK should begin with putting an end to the current relations between the DPRK and the U.S. which are technically at war.
The DPRK and the U.S. are leveling guns at each other in this state. It is unreasonable to demand the DPRK abandon its nuclear deterrent first under the present situation.
He expressed expectation that member nations of the ASEAN Regional Forum would have a correct understanding of the root cause of the issue of the Korean Peninsula and extend support and solidarity to the efforts of the DPRK to ensure peace and stability there.
The DPRK government will as ever further strengthen friendly and cooperative relations with regional countries in line with its foreign policy of independence, friendship and peace and fulfill all its responsibility in defending peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the region, Pak concluded.
The Chairman’s Statement adopted at the end of the 19th ASEAN Regional Forum “underlined the importance of peace, security and stability on the Korean Peninsula and urged concerned parties not to conduct any further provocation and to comply with their respective obligations under the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.” The entire Chairman’s statement can be obtained as a PDF here.
The Ministers underlined the importance of peace, security and stability on the Korean Peninsula and urged concerned parties not to conduct any further provocation and to comply with their respective obligations under the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and their commitment under the 2005 Six-Party Talks Joint Statement. The Ministers further reiterated the call for all parties concerned to explore all possibilities to engage in peaceful dialogue which would lead to the creation of an atmosphere of trust and confidence among the concerned parties. The Ministers noted the successful visit of H.E. HOR Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia to Pyongyang, Democratic Republic of Korea on 3-4 June 2012, in his capacity as both the ASEAN Chair and the ARF Chair. The visit has highlighted the enhancing role of the ARF Chair.
While he was in Phnom Penh, Pak exchanged civilities with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba at a dinner for participants on Thursday. According to Kyodo, “the chat took place ‘just by coincidence’ and the two ministers ‘exchanged greetings’ for a short time, one of the officials said.” Pak Ui Chun did not, however, meet his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-hwan. According to Yonhap, Pak and Kim attended several commemorative photo sessions, a visit to the Cambodian Prime Minister and other events, but completely avoided one another. Yonhap reports:
The ASEAN Regional Forum has served as an important venue for discussions on North Korea. This week’s forum marked the first time South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and his North Korean counterpart, Pak Ui-chun, could have held face-to-face meetings on the sidelines since the December death of North Korea’s long-time ruler, Kim Jong-il.
Along with top diplomats from Southeast Asian nations and regional powers, Kim and Pak have posed for group photos several times during the forum, but did not even greet each other.
To pay a courtesy call to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday, foreign ministers trickled in along an entranceway flanked by scores of cameras. Kim and Pak entered the meeting room separately.
Between each arrival, Kim chatted with other foreign ministers. Pak simply smiled and shook hands with some ministers, including Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. However, Kim and Pak apparently shunned each other and did not even shake hands.
It was a sharp contrast from last year’s ASEAN Regional Forum in Indonesia, when the ministers held brief meetings on the sidelines after making diplomatic progress to possibly resume the six-party talks on ending the North’s nuclear weapons program.
Diplomatic efforts to resume the six-party talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear ambition have been frozen since April, when North Korea defiantly launched a long-range rocket that failed moments after lift-off.
The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the launch as a disguised test of a long-range ballistic missile and warned the North of further sanctions if it conducts another missile launch or nuclear test.
Concerns persist that North Korea may soon conduct a third nuclear test to make up for its failed launch. The North’s previous two rocket launches in 2006 and 2009 were followed by nuclear tests.
Pak didn’t respond to a barrage of questions by reporters during the forum.
At one point, a South Korean reporter agitated Pak by shouting out a question about North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un, “Has Comrade Kim Jong-un married?” In response, Pak only frowned at the reporter.
Little is known about the North’s young leader Kim, who is believed to be in his late 20s.
Also on Thursday, North Korea’s delegation released an English-language statement at the ASEAN forum, arguing it needs a “nuclear deterrent” to protect itself from what it called “the hostile policy” of the United States.
Pak Ui Chun did meet with other foreign ministers during his stay in Cambodia. According to KCNA Pak met with foreign ministers from Vietnam and Singapore. On Wednesday, he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. According to Xinhua English, Yang said Sino-DPRK relations “are in good shape and bilateral cooperation in various fields progressed smoothly. Yang also said that “China highly values its traditional relationship with the DPRK and in the new era under new circumstances, will work with the DPRK to steadily advance their bilateral ties in the principles of carrying on tradition, looking to the future, developing good-neighborly friendship and enhancing cooperation.” Xinhua reports:
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with DPRK Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun on the sidelines of ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meetings here on Wednesday.
Yang said that China-DPRK relations are in good shape and bilateral cooperation in various fields progressed smoothly. China highly values its traditional friendship with the DPRK and in the new era and under new circumstances, will work with the DPRK to steadily advance their bilateral ties in the principles of carrying on tradition, looking to the future, developing good- neighborly friendship and enhancing cooperation.
Yang said that easing the situation on Korean Peninsula serves the interests of all parties. China will strengthen communication and coordination with all parties and work together to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and create conditions for the resumption of the six-party nuclear talks.
Pak Ui-chun said that the DPRK highly values its friendly and cooperative relations with China and the DPRK-China friendship is unbreakable. The DPRK side thanked China for giving valuable support and assistance to the DPRK in its economic and social development over the years and expressed readiness to reinforce friendship and cooperation in all fields and step up communication and coordination with China in regional and international affairs.
The DPRK side expressed its confidence about greater progress in the traditional friendship and cooperation between the DPRK and China driven by concerted efforts of both sides.
As ARF was wrapping up, Pak met with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong in Phnom Penh on Saturday (14 July). According to Xinhua, during the meeting, Pak said the DPRK “was ready to rejoin the Six-Party Talks.” Xinhua reports:
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was ready to rejoin the six-party talks, DPRK Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun said here Saturday.
Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Pak confirmed DPRK’s readiness to return to the stalled talks, aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, when meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.
Hor, who had lobbied the DPRK to return to the negotiating table during a visit to Pyongyang last month, said Cambodia welcomed Pyongyang’s decision.
During the meeting, Pak spoke highly of Hor’s visit to DPRK in June as the ASEAN chair, saying Pyongyang appreciated Hor’s proposals to promote their bilateral ties in agriculture and industry.
The two ministers also agreed to further beef up bilateral trade, according to the spokesman.
The two-way trade volume was a mere 500,000 U.S. dollars in 2011.
Pak paid an official visit to Cambodia after attending the ASEAN Regional Forum Friday.
The six-party talks, which involve South Korea, the DPRK, China, the United States, Japan and Russia, began in 2003 but stalled in December 2008.
The DPRK quit the talks in April 2009 in protest at international condemnation of its long-range missile tests.