Sec. of State Pompeo optimistic Pyongyang trip will yield U.S.-North Korea progress
While the American press has been singularly focused on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s youth and the specialty cocktails he enjoyed while boofing, there have been intriguing news developments elsewhere.
For example, it seems the Korean peninsula peace process is continuing apace, after its start with the Singapore Summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un. Troops from North and South Korea have started removing landmines buried in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the countries.
South Korean army engineers and demining equipment were deployed Monday to the heavily fortified Joint Security Area in the village of Panmunjom and to the other frontline area called “Arrow Head Hill,” where hundreds of soldiers were killed during the Korean War. Panmunjom is one of the most famous sites in the Demilitarized Zone and is where the armistice was signed in 1953 to end the Korean War.
The move was agreed upon during a meeting last month in Pyongyang by the leaders of the two Koreas, Kim Jong Un in the North and Moon Jae-in in the South. It also comes as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to visit North Korea’s capital this month to try to set up a second summit between Kim and President Trump.
The deal also provides for removal of guard posts and weapons from the Joint Security Area (JSA) which is slated to follow the removal of the mines, with the troops remaining there to be left unarmed. The JSA is the only area along the DMZ where troops from both Koreas are face to face.
South Korean troops have gradually taken over most operations along their side of the border but international forces under the U.S.-led United Nations Command retain major roles, especially at the JSA, where an American commander and a South Korean deputy lead the security battalion.
UNC spokesman Colonel Chad Carroll declined to confirm if the command would also withdraw any weapons from the JSA, but said American forces would provide support for the demining operation.
“United States Forces Korea will perform a support role – to include having air medical evacuation assets available to respond within minutes of any potential medical emergencies,” he told Reuters in a statement.
It appears, then, there is plenty of reason for optimism as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to visit Pyongyang this weekend. Pompeo is hoping to begin building a path to North Korea’s denuclearization.
“I’m very happy to be going back to get another chance to continue to advance the commitment that Chairman Kim and President Trump made back in Singapore in the second week of June,” Pompeo told a news briefing at the State Department.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll come away from that with better understandings, deeper progress and a plan forward, not only for the summit between the two leaders but for us to continue the efforts to build out a pathway for denuclearization,” he said.
There are likely to be more developments this weekend. If they are positive for the Trump Administration, I suspect the American press will remained focused on Kavanaugh.DONATE
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