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2009/11/26 10:53 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 82 (November 26, 2009)


Clinton Calls on N.K. to Return to Six-party Talks, Offers Incentives

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Nov. 20 called on North Korea to come back to the six-party talks, offering a set of incentives in return for its denuclearization.

   "We are going to go with a very clear message that there are significant benefits to North Korea if they recommit to the verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Clinton said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio, referring to the upcoming trip to Pyongyang by Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korea policy, early next month.

   U.S. President Barack Obama on Nov. 19 announced Bosworth's trip to Pyongyang, set for Dec. 8, to attempt to lure the reluctant North back to the six-party talks that have been deadlocked over international sanctions for its nuclear and missile tests.

   State Department officials have said the U.S. point man on North Korea will stay in Pyongyang for one-and-a-half days, leading a delegation of four or five inter-agency officials, including Sung Kim, U.S. special envoy for the six-party talks.

   An official, asking anonymity, said the U.S. hopes that the trip will result in resumption of the nuclear talks.

   "There are certainly indications that they will return to the six-party talks. We have been told directly as far as I know," the official said, but added, "I can't say anything definitive on that."

   Clinton said the U.S. "would explore some of the issues which they have raised continually with us over the years; namely, normalization of relations, a peace treaty instead of an armistice, economic development assistance."

   "All of that would be open for discussion," she said. "But the North Koreans have to commit to denuclearization. And we also think it's important to do so within the context of the six-party talks."

   Clinton was discussing benefits pledged under a six-party deal signed in 2005 involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.


UNDP to Resume North Korea Projects Next Year: Clark

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said on Nov. 23 that the organization was finalizing plans to resume projects in North Korea next year, expecting them to cost US$2.5 million annually.

   "I would expect that when the resident coordinator is properly established ... and the office is fully operational, you can probably expect next year to see some forward movement," UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said at a press conference in Seoul.

   The UNDP had engaged in development projects in the North since 1981 -- including agricultural development, human resource development and economic reform programs -- before withdrawing in March 2007 soon after suspicions arose over North Korea's misappropriation of development funds.

   Clark was in Seoul to sign an agreement on setting up the "Seoul Policy Center for Global Development Partnership" early next year. The center will replace the UNDP's Seoul office, to be closed next month.

   "The consensus of the executive board was that the office should reopen. It's reopening with a small program -- around $2.5 million a year and a very small number of employees," Clark said.

   Clark, a former prime minister of New Zealand who was appointed to head the agency early this year, said there will be six projects, including those in the areas of "sustainable rural energy and sustainable rural livelihoods."

   "There will also be some work done on the collection of proper statistics around the Millennium Development Goal progress."

   The resumption of the project will not infringe on U.N. Security Council sanctions on the socialist country, she said.

   The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) adopted sanctions resolutions after North Korea conducted long-range missile tests in April and a second nuclear test in May. The resolutions call for financial sanctions and an overall arms embargo that allows member countries to inspect North Korean ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction.

   Regarding past allegations of the misappropriation of development funds in the North, Clark said those issues were fully investigated and resolved.

   "They were fully investigated, there was not a shred of truth in them and they caused a lot of distress to the organization at that time, leading to the closure of the office."

   "Those issues have been totally resolved; that's why the executive board has agreed that the office should reopen. Of course, it will be reopened in a responsible way with the appropriate checks and balances in place."


U.S. Senate Approves King As Special Envoy for N. Korean Rights

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Senate has approved the nomination of Robert King, a former congressional aide, as special envoy for North Korean human rights, congressional sources said on Nov. 22.

   The full Senate approved King unanimously on Nov. 20, the sources said.

   King was named by President Barack Obama in September under the North Korean Human Rights Act which calls for provision of financial aid to help improve human rights conditions in the North and accommodation of North Korean defectors into the U.S.

   The act was effectuated in 2004 under the Bush administration for a four-year run and was extended by Congress for another four years in September last year. It calls for "activities to support human rights and democracy and freedom of information in North Korea," and "assistance to North Koreans who are outside North Korea," plus 12-hour broadcasting to North Korea.

   Speaking at a Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month, King said he will raise China's deportation of North Korean defectors with Beijing.

   China, Pyongyang's staunchest communist ally, sees North Korean defectors as economic migrants rather than refugees, and repatriates them under a secret agreement with North Korea, where they are persecuted.

   Reports said that hundreds of thousands of North Korean defectors are hiding in China.

   Most of the defectors cross the border with China to seek shelter, mainly in South Korea, which has received nearly 20,000 of them since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

   The U.S. has taken in about 80 North Korean refugees since the North Korean Human Rights Act was enacted to help promote democracy in the communist nation.

   King replaces Jay Lefkowitz who quit earlier this year after serving four years since 2005.

   In his final report, Lefkowitz in January urged Obama to emphasize human rights in the six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions and proposed that the U.S. and its allies link any aid to Pyongyang with human rights improvements.

   Lefkowitz was denied access to North Korea while in office, although he frequently visited South Korea and China to write reports.


Group of American Experts to Visit North Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A group of American experts on Korean affairs was scheduled to visit North Korea for four days from Saturday to meet with key officials involved in Pyongyang's nuclear program, informed sources here said.

   Jack Pritchard, president of the Korea Economic Institute (KEI), Scott Snyder, director of the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy at the Asia Foundation, and Nicole Finneman, director of research and academic affairs at the KEI were to fly to Pyongyang via Beijing and stay from Nov. 21-24, a senior diplomatic source said, requesting anonymity.

   "The group led by Pritchard will visit North Korea today after having consultations with the U.S. government," the source said. "They are likely to meet with key North Korean officials involved in the country's nuclear program."

   The trip is expected to play a role in Washington-Pyongyang relations before Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korean policy, visits Pyongyang on Dec. 8.

   Sources said that they will brief the U.S. government on the result.

   After months of provocations, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il expressed his willingness to come back to the six-party talks on ending his country's nuclear program and invited Bosworth to visit Pyongyang.

   After his summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama said he will send Bosworth on Dec. 8.