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Inter-Korean military talks focus on train service
N. Korea wants an increase in freight shipments, two Koreas to meet for more talks later this month
During the first inter-Korean military talks of the new year held on January 25, North Korean delegates reportedly insisted that the operation of freight trains on the Munsan-Bongdong line be reduced unless there are improvements, and say that freight transportation is not being conducted properly due to an absence of cargo.
The two Koreas decided to resume freight train service at the second inter-Korean summit in October 2007, under an eight-point agreement on economic cooperccation and development between the two countries. Freight trains operate once a day, transporting goods produced in the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex from Bongdong Station in the North to Munsan Station in the South.
At the military talks, held at the House of Peace in the southern part of the truce village of Panmunjeom, Park Rim-soo, chief of the North Korean delegation, said, “Even though military security was guaranteed in accordance with the spirit of the summit agreement reached by the leaders of the two Koreas, freight trains are running without goods,” according to an official from Seoul.
The official reported that Park complained about the service, saying, “Because of this, even if North Korean workers have nothing to do, they are still commuting every day.”
Inter-Korean talks resume with military meeting in Panmunjeom
N. Korea proposed meeting, which will include discussion of rail service and security guarantees
The two Koreas will open their first military talks of the new year in the truce village of Panmunjeom on January 25. The meeting proposed by North Korea is a welcome sign amid what seemed like a slow-down in progress in both inter-Korean relations and multilateral talks on the North Korean nuclear issue.
The Ministry of National Defense announced on January 23 that South and North Korea will hold a round of working-level military talks at the House of Peace on the southern side of Panmunjeom. The two sides will discuss the implementation of items agreed upon at the second inter-Korean defense ministerial talks, which took place last fall, such as operation of a freight train between Munsan and Bongdong, the ministry added.
Year's First Inter-Korean Military Talks Still On
The first working-level inter-Korean military talks of the year will go ahead at the truce village of Panmunjeom on Friday, although almost all inter-Korean talks have been suspended since early this year. The Defense Ministry on Wednesday said the talks will be held at Peace House on the southern side of the Panmunjeom truce village on Friday
Overcoming the freeze in inter-Korean relations
Pyongyang requested that Seoul postpone a sub-committee meeting on railway cooperation that was scheduled to take place yesterday and today, putting the brakes on a thaw in inter-Korean relations that had begun with the second round of summit talks in October. The six-party talks that Seoul and Washington have been seeking to hold within the month also seem as though they will be postponed until after next month. There are signs here and there that the multilateral process aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear programs and improving inter-Korean relations is moving back into a stalemate.
Yellow light slows inter-Korean relations
N. Korea taking wait-and-see approach until new administration takes office
Although there had been smooth sailing in inter-Korean relations ever since the second summit between the leaders of the two Koreas in October last year, a yellow light has suddenly appeared to slow things down. A delay in a process initiated by a six-nation forum on the denuclearization of North Korea, as well as the North’s hesitation to engage in inter-Korean relations so close to the change of administration in the South, representing the first shift from left to right in ten years, seems as though it is cause for concern.
Ex-spies continue long fight for justice
The former agents are angry because the government has not publicly identified the agents or notified remaining family members eligible for compensation.
January 23, 2008
Ha Tae-jun, a former agent trained specifically for clandestine missions in the North, pays his respects to fallen comrades at a shrine located at an office in Itaewon. By Kang Uk-hyun
Former South Korean agents and commandos trained specifically to infiltrate North Korea took to the streets seven years ago.
They wanted recognition for the harsh treatment that they received during their training, claiming that they had been promised compensation, which they never received.
For a government that was trying to mend ties with Pyongyang, the publicity that these agents received was embarrassing. In addition, the agents threatened to reveal the scope of missions to the North, which had supposedly ceased after 1974. The two Koreas had signed a pact vowing to halt all clandestine operations in a bid to reduce tensions on the peninsula
Red Cross to Expand S-N Exchanges
Government Downsizing Won’t Affect Works to Reunite Separate Families
By Kang Shin-who
The chief of South Korea's Red Cross said that the humanitarian organization's primary mission of ``reuniting separate families of the divided Korean Peninsula'' will remain intact despite the overhaul of government organizations.
Deception and disregard for reunification
Looking at the behavior of President-elect Lee Myung-bak and his presidential transition team since they announced on January 16 that they will do away with the Unification Ministry, you see exactly what a low level of understanding they have about reunification issues and how extemporaneously they approach them. They treat the national goal of peaceful reunification like a pariah, because they judge everything in the context of negating the policies of the government of Roh Moo-hyun. It is unrepresented in the history of the Republic of Korea.
President-elect hopes for improved relations with Japan, China and N. Korea
Lee Myung-bak will not press for apology from Japan and could invite N. Korean delegation to inauguration
President-elect Lee Myung-bak told foreign correspondents on Thursday that “for the sake of mature Korea-Japan relations” he “does not want to tell Japan to apologize or engage in self-reflection.”
Speaking to the international media at the Korea Press Center on Seoul’s Taepyeongno boulevard, Lee said it is a “fact” that “Japan has apologized in form,” but that because they were formalities, these apologies “have not moved (the hearts of) the Korean people.”
Speaking about relations with China, the president-elect said he would like to see deeper relations “in areas other than just economics,” but that he would like to see “gradual examination of a free trade agreement with the Chinese.” He also said he would consider attending the Beijing Olympics if invited to do so by the government there.
Lee eyes revision of law to allow foreigners to become civil servants
President-elect Lee Myung-bak is considering pushing for a revision of South Korea's public service laws, to allow the appointment of foreign nationals as government workers, the government transition committee said Saturday.
In a meeting with leaders of the minor Democratic Party Friday, Lee said that he is "considering proposing a revision of the public service law," according to a committee official.
Lee noted in the meeting that the role of William Ryback, a former deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority who is working with the committee's foreign investment task force, is currently limited to special advisor.
Appointment of Mr William A. Ryback as Deputy Chief Executive of the HKMA
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) today (Friday) announced that the Financial Secretary, following the advice of the Remuneration and Finance Sub-Committee of the Exchange Fund Advisory Committee, has approved the appointment of Mr William A. Ryback as Deputy Chief Executive of the HKMA with effect from 27 August 2003. Mr Ryback will succeed Mr David Carse, who will leave the HKMA in September, as Deputy Chief Executive in charge of banking policy, development and supervision issues.
Mr Ryback has considerable experience in both banking supervision and in multilateral financial co-operation. Since 1986 he has held various positions at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, where he was Senior Associate Director before his departure in June 2003.
Foreign Office to Become 'Super Ministry'
The Foreign Ministry will become bigger by absorbing the function of the Unification Ministry under a blueprint for government reorganization unveiled by the presidential transition team on Wednesday. The revamp suggests that president-elect Lee Myung-bak intends to make the Foreign Ministry the nerve center of foreign and security policies, tasking it with negotiating with all foreign countries including North Korea.
Past governments have distinguished North Korea from other countries and treated it specially. But the incoming government will not view the North as a separate policy standard and will involve all ministries in dealing with Pyongyang.
The historic acquittal of Jo Yong-su
Yesterday, a court ruled that the late Jo Yong-su, president of the newspaper Minjok Ilbo, was not guilty of the crimes for which he was executed by the military government of Park Chung-hee shortly after its coup d’etat in 1961. While this judgment does not bring Jo back to life, we truly hope to see it be of at least some consolation to Jo’s family and those who were affected by the case, all who have lived in much pain in the decades since.
The court’s decision confirms that the actions of the military government were indeed a “judicial murder.” The dictatorship saw that, from its inception, the Minjok Ilbo’s editorial position called for peaceful reunification while also calling for South Korea to declare its neutrality, which would imply a break in its alliance with the United States. As this perspective was becoming immensely popular, the regime closed down the paper and framed Jo as someone engaged in activities on behalf of Pyongyang.
Lee Faces Image Problem Over NK Issue
/ Korea Times Photo
by Ko Young-kwon
By Kang Hyun-kyung
President-elect Lee Myung-bak stressed Thursday that the next government would make more energetic efforts to build better inter-Korean relations than previous administrations.
Lee denied that the planned government downsizing downplayed relations with the North.
South Korea’s Sunshine Policy Dims
By CHOE SANG-HUN
Published: January 17, 2008
SEOUL, South Korea — The president-elect on Wednesday proposed eliminating a government agency that has long led efforts to build reconciliation with North Korea, but which he has accused of being too soft on the Communist government there.
Spymaster Resigns Over Leak
National Intelligence Service Director Kim Man-bok on Tuesday resigned after admitting that he leaked the transcript of a purported conversation he had with North Korea’s head of clandestine activities in the South, Kim Yang-gon. The leak to the JoongAng Ilbo of a strikingly innocuous conversation between the two Kims in Pyongyang on Dec. 18 came earlier last week; Kim Man-bok’s admission that he leaked a confidential state document is the first by a South Korean intelligence chief.
Unification Ministry proposes plans for POWs and abductees
Economic aid could be exchanged for cooperation, or confidential communications channel could be opened
The issue of South Korean prisoners of war and citizens abducted by North Korea has long been a point of contention between the two countries, but a recent proposal by the Ministry of Unification to resolve the issue was believed to have been reported to President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s transition team on January 15. The plan would involve exchanging South Korean economic aid for North Korean cooperation in identifying prisoners of war and abducted citizens, as well as providing an opportunity for these people to be repatriated and live with their families in the South.
Newspaper publisher acquitted 47 years after his execution for "helping North Korea"
A young newspaper publisher who was executed in the early 1960s for collaborating with North Korea was acquitted Wednesday in an emotional trial that cleared one of the most wrenching legacies of the country's decades of authoritarian rule.
Jo Yong-su, the founder of the Minjok Ilbo meaning People's Newspaper, was executed at the age of 32 after being convicted by a military court of setting up the newspaper with North Korea's financial support and being a member of pro-Pyongyang underground organizations.
"The defendant is innocent," Judge Kim Yong-seok of the Seoul Central District Court said, as his family members and friends applauded and wept. There's no evidence that he participated in such pro-North Korean parties, the judge said.
The case still reverberates through South Korean politics, with Lee Hoi-chang, a former chairman of the conservative opposition Grand National Party, having taken part in the sentencing as one of the junta's judges.
President-elect criticized by North, but not by name
January 17, 2008
North Korea made an oblique attack on South Korea’s newly elected leader yesterday, but its official media stuck to a policy of not actually naming the man who has pledged to get tougher on the communist country.
Intelligence Chief Faces Probe
National Intelligence Service Director Kim Man-bok makes a deep bow after offering to resign to take responsibility for a document leak from the spy agency in Seoul, Tuesday. / Korea Times
By Kim Yon-se
The nation's spy chief could face a criminal investigation for leaking confidential information in violation of internal National Intelligence Service (NIS) regulations.
The speculation arose after he offered to resign Tuesday, amid mounting criticism over leaking classified documents detailing a conversation between himself and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yang-gon.
Seoul Eyes Aid-for-POWs Agreements
By Jung Sung-ki
The government is considering offering economic incentives to North Korea in return for agreeing to deal with the issue of South Korean citizens allegedly abducted by the North and prisoners of war (POWs) still alive there, a government source said Tuesday.
The Ministry of Unification recently reported the idea to the transition team of President-elect Lee Myung-bak, the source said.
Defense Ministry plans to call for UN resolution on POWs
Ministry also considering support of domestic and international human rights campaigns
The Ministry of National Defense has announced that it will call for a U.N. resolution on the return of Korean prisoners of war in North Korea.
The ministry said, “The government will raise this issue via international organizations so that the international community exercises its influence over it.” The ministry said that it had made its decision because the U.N. resolution has become an objective standard in deciding whether or not international sanctions will be imposed, or assistance provided, to nations found to be violating human rights. The ministry is also considering finding a way to support campaigns by domestic and international human rights groups submitting petitions to the United Nations.
Lee expresses willingness to meet N. Korean leader in Seoul
President-elect Lee Myung-bak said Monday that he is willing to hold summit talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il anytime, if such a meeting would contribute to the denuclearization of the communist state.
"Leaders of the two Koreas can meet anytime if it would be helpful to the denuclearization of North Korea. But the next summit has to take place in Seoul," said Lee in his New Year's news conference.
Transition Team Reviews Reunification Education
By Kang Hyun-kyung
The presidential transition team started reviewing elements of school educational programs on reunification and security to find out whether or not the elements are biased, a source said Monday.
He said current programs focused on reconciliation of the two Koreas, while disregarding addressing human rights issues in North Korea.
Is Lee resurrecting the authoritarian Park Chung-hee model?
Professor Yu Jong-il, KDI Graduate School for International Policy
The presidential transition team has worked hard with no Sunday rest and all the government ministries have finished their briefings. In the process, there have been rows and confusion, but the transition team has worked very enthusiastically. The incoming administration appears to be concentrating its energy on economic recovery, in line with President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s convictions. However, in the midst of concerns about the U.S. economic slowdown and aggravating worldwide economic conditions, including the increase in the price of international raw materials, the new ruling power, which wants to live up to the expectations of the people and demonstrate its abilities, could cause negative effects in the course of attempting to boost the nation’s economy excessively in order to achieve remarkable growth.
The bigger concern is that the president-in-waiting, a construction hero in the 1970s, has former President Park Chung-hee’s economic paradigm in his head.
N. Korea’s spy chief hopes to maintain amicable ties with S. Korea’s new administration
North and South Korean spy chiefs met in sectret in Pyongyang one day before S. Korean election
Kim Man-bok, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, met with Kim Yang-gon, director of the United Front Department of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, on December 18, 2007, one day before the South Korean presidential election took place. They were reported to have discussed the direction of inter-Korean relations following the launch of the new administration.
NIS chief Kim briefed the presidential transition team on the meeting on January 10. At the briefing, South Korea’s Kim said, “The Grand National Party’s policies on North Korea won’t be significantly different in terms of basic reconciliation and cooperation,” adding, “The incoming administration will be able to pursue more drastic North Korean policies than the incumbent administration because it is better positioned to be persuasive with the South’s conservatives.”
Lee Vows Stronger Defense Posture
By Yoon Won-sup
President-elect Lee Myung-bak pledged to enhance the nation's military strength against North Korea even though he will continue the peace and reconciliation policy toward the country.
``Reinforcing defense and strengthening security do not mean ignoring inter-Korean reconciliation,'' Lee said during a meeting with Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo and other military leaders at the Defense Ministry in Seoul Friday.
Lee stressed that a strong defense and tight security are the basis of the nation as they deter war and keep the peace despite the various measures for ultimate unification on the Korean Peninsula.
``Korea is the only divided nation on the earth. We must take defense and security seriously,'' Lee added.
He also met Kim Kwan-jin, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force. [Military balance]
The Hard Part Starts for Seoul's New Man
Policy Forum Online 08-003A: January 10th, 2008
By Donald Kirk
Donald Kirk, a Journalist who has been covering Korea - and the
confrontation of forces in Northeast Asia - for more than 30 years,
writes, "In the end, some analysts say, Lee's instincts for business,
especially construction, may trump his notion of firmness toward
North Korea. As a product of the Hyundai empire, he may well build on
progress already achieved by the subsidiary Hyundai Asan in
developing tourism to Mount Kumkang, above the eastern border with
North Korea, and further investment in the Kaesong special economic
zone, also above the line 64 kilometers north of Seoul."
How to Open North Korea to the World
, by Yang Sang-hoon
Prof. Nam Sung-wook, a North Korea specialist at Korea University on the presidential Transition Committee, a while ago suggested North Korea should send a senior official at the rank of deputy premier or above to the presidential inauguration of Lee Myung-bak. The best person would be the North’s no. 2 leader Kim Yong-nam, the president of the Supreme People's Assembly, Nam said. The Transition Committee immediately insisted this was Nam’s personal view alone: but listening to the inside story suggests it isn’t.
President-elect Lee has proclaimed he will substantially revise the Sunshine Policy we have pursued over the last 10 years. It has been amply proven that handing out money to North Korea and pleasing its every whim is not effective. At the same time, it is unrealistic to revert to a blockade now. We have no choice but to adopt an engagement policy with Pyongyang, but we need new goals and means.
One-sided pressure on the North to disable its nuclear facilities and weapons will hit a brick wall. Some people believe North Korea will collapse behind it, but remember that it is a country where all that is perishable has already perished. Nothing but nuclear weapons, bacteriological weapons and toxic gases, 1.2 million troops, long-range missiles, secret police and the fear of the residents remain. These are not of the nature to be easily vanquished. Plus there is no reason for China to leave the North to collapse. So pushing the North into a corner before it has disarmed is counterproductive.
Lee Gov’t to Postpone Some Inter-Korean Mega Projects
President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s Transition Committee said Monday it will postpone some costly inter-Korean economic cooperation projects including a “peace zone” in the West Sea, a shipyard complex in North Korea and the repair of railways and roads in the North. The decision is in line with Lee’s declared intent to link inter-Korean economic projects other than humanitarian aid to progress in North Korea’s denuclearization process.
New President to Attend West Sea Battle Memorial
Starting this year the central government will assume responsibility for the annual memorial service for the victims of the West Sea Battle of June 2002. The new president is expected to attend.
Military Launches New High-Tech Command System
Korea's military has a new high-tech command system that uses real-time multimedia reports to keep top brass informed and in control of what's going on in the field as it happens.
Called the Korea Joint Command Control System, or KJCCS, the system lets military leaders command battlefield units as they watch up-to-the-minute reports on a large-screen monitor in the Joint Chiefs of Staff situation room.
KJCCS was launched on Jan. 1 after three years and tens of billions of won in development (US$1=W939).
New administration links N. Korea denuclearization to inter-Korean economic cooperation
Humanitarian aid to continue, but phase two development of Gaeseong and West Sea peace zone could be scrapped
South Korean President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s transition team will link progress in the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear programs to major inter-Korean economic cooperation projects such as second-stage development of the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex and the creation of a special peace zone in the West Sea. These projects were agreed upon at an inter-Korean summit held last year and fine-tuned during subsequent meetings between the prime ministers of the two Koreas.
Reconsider reunification and keep the Unification Ministry
The presidential transition team is said to be considering doing away with the Unification Ministry and putting its operations under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The worries this causes are one thing, but it also makes you question the true nature of Lee Myung-bak’s administration. Does it not know the difference between policy on foreign affairs and reunification, or does it want to exclude reunification from its list of goals for the nation?
Implementation of October 4 Declaration Urged
Pyongyang, January 7 (KCNA) -- The historic October 4 declaration is a solemn declaration heralding a new era of independent reunification and peace and prosperity, and it is a significant declaration in which the north and the south of Korea reaffirmed the spirit of the June 15 joint declaration and promised to accelerate peace and cooperation and national reunification on its basis.
Rodong Sinmun Monday says this in a signed article.
Lee Myung-bak's North Korea Policy,
by Kim Dae-joong
President-elect Lee Myung-bak's attitude to North Korea is uncertain. "A sincere declaration” of all nuclear materials and stockpiles “is more important even if it were delayed a little," Lee said Tuesday regarding North Korea's failure to meet the Dec. 31 deadline. "An exact declaration, rather than keeping the declaration deadline, can generate trust and mark a first step toward a genuine disablement of the nuclear facilities." A full declaration is more important than the deadline, he feels. So why was the deadline set to begin with?
Unification Ministry Braces Itself for Grilling
The Unification Ministry apparently omits the term "Sunshine Policy" in a report it will submit Monday to president-elect Lee Myung-bak's Transition Committee, it emerged Sunday. There, the ministry will reportedly tell the committee about any problems in matters the Roh Moo-hyun administration agreed with North Korea, including at the latest summit last year. Since the October summit alone, the Roh administration has reached as many as 200 agreements with the North.
Implementation of October 4 Declaration Called for
Pyongyang, January 5 (KCNA) -- The slogan "Open up a new era of independent reunification and peace and prosperity by pooling the efforts of our nation!" which was put up by the joint New Year editorial is the very just and realistic one for national reunification as it encourages the fellow countrymen to vigorously conduct a nationwide struggle for independent reunification and peace and prosperity under the banner of "By our nation itself".
Rodong Sinmun Saturday says this in a signed article.
Korea -- A Desert Island in the Globalized World?
Is Korea still an isolated country? Many have been calling for a "global Korea" over the last decade, stressing that globalization is the only way for survival. The number of foreigners living in the country exceeded the 1 million mark last year, but many of them say Korea lags far behind Singapore or Japan
S.Korean Spy Chief's Visit to N.Korea Questioned
National Intelligence Service Chief Kim Man-bok made a secret visit to Pyongyang on Dec. 18, the day before South Korea's presidential election, it was emerged on Thursday.
The NIS said that during his one-day stay the NIS director installed a stone marker for a pine tree that President Roh Moo-hyun planted at Pyongyang Central Botanical Garden during the inter-Korean summit in October.
However, a South Korean intelligence official claimed that the NIS head was in Pyongyang to discuss a proposed visit to South Korea by Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea.
Keep the Unification Ministry in tact
Yang Mu-jin, Graduate School of North Korean Studies, Kyungnam University
The year 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the founding of South Korea and the establishment of North Korean regime. Sixty years ago, the Korean Peninsula was simultaneously divided into South and North. Connected to this, is the current discussion about whether to integrate the Ministry of Unification into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade or reduce it to an agency. To accomplish the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, it is necessary to further strengthen cooperation with the United States and Japan, and the Ministry of Unification has exercised too much power and has done too much. However, this is not a sufficient reason to justify the reduction or abolishment of the Unification Ministry. Instead, here are some very menacing factors to consider.
Lee Myung-bak to Focus on Summit Diplomacy
Dec.31,2007 08:04 KST
President-elect Lee Myung-bak will focus on summit diplomacy following his inauguration in February, it emerged Sunday. He will make a tour of the four Big Powers, as they are known in Korea: the U.S., China, Japan and Russia. Lee will send a special delegation to Washington around mid-January. Independent lawmaker Chung Mong-joon is reportedly among those Lee is considering as special envoy and chief of delegation. Lee is thinking of visiting the U.S. either before the general election in April or right after.
President Roh Moo-hyun visited Washington three months after his inauguration in May, 2003, while former president Kim Dae-jung went to Washington four months into the job in June, 1998.
Invite N.Korea to Lee's Inauguration: Expert
An advisor to the foreign, unification and national security affairs taskforce at president-elect Lee Myung-bak’s Transition Committee on Tuesday said North Korea should send a high-level delegate to Lee’s inauguration on Feb. 25. Prof. Nam Sung-wook of Korea University said, “Personally, I think that the new government should open dialogue with the North. It should consider sending an envoy in January to Pyongyang to invite a delegation to the incoming president’s inaugural ceremony.” He added, “North Korean affairs are not among the Transition Committee’s eight major agendas. But the new government can’t avoid tackling it.”
N.Korea Still Silent on Lee Myung-bak's Election
The North Korean media has been silent on Lee Myung-bak's election as president of South Korea for six days. In the case of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, it took them just two days to respond
Convenience stores and retail chains eclipse mom-and-pop stores
Statistics office reports surge in discount stores, real estate brokerages and cram schools
Over the past five years, the number of mom-and-pop stores has fallen by an average of 6.3 a day, hurt by the expansion of convenience and big-box chain stores. In addition, the number of real estate brokerages and for-profit private cram schools rose by average 16.7 and 8.2 each, driven by a surge in home prices and demand for private education.
Lee Stresses Give-and-Take in Inter-Korean Projects
President-elect Lee Myung-bak's aides on Tuesday said new inter-Korean economic cooperation projects cannot become a reality unless North Korea makes an accurate declaration of its nuclear programs and disables its nuclear facilities under a Feb. 13 six-nation accord.
A close aide in charge of Lee’s North Korea and security policy said, "The North has not kept its promise to declare its nuclear programs and complete the disablement of its nuclear facilities by the end of this year. Under these circumstances, it will be difficult to implement new inter-Korean economic cooperation projects, such as the construction of a second industrial complex and a shipyard. The projects should proceed in step with the stages of North Korea's denuclearization."
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