Chinese, Japanese, South Korean leaders meet to handle fragile situation
Foreign Desk Report
SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a meeting of top military officials to discuss boosting the country’s military capability, state news agency reported on Sunday amid heightened concern the North may be about to return to confrontation with Washington.
Kim presided over an enlarged meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission, KCNA news agency said, to discuss steps “to bolster up the overall armed forces of the country … militarily and politically.”
“Also discussed were important issues for decisive improvement of the overall national defense and core matters for the sustained and accelerated development of military capability for self-defense,” KCNA said.
It did not give details on when the meeting was held nor what was decided.
The commission is North Korea’s top military decision-making body. Kim rules the country as its supreme military commander and is the chairman of the commission. North Korea has set a year-end deadline for the United States to change what it says is a policy of hostility amid a stalemate in efforts to make progress on their pledge to end the North’s nuclear program and establish lasting peace.
Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump have met three times since June 2018, but there has been no substantive progress in dialogue while the North demanded crushing international sanctions be lifted first.
On Saturday, the state media said the United States would “pay dearly” for taking issue with the North’s human rights record and said Washington’s “malicious words” would only aggravate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Some experts say the reclusive state may be preparing for an intercontinental ballistic missile test that could put it back on a path of confrontation with the United States.
The U.S. envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, has visited South Korea and China in the past week, issuing a public and direct call to North Korea to return to the negotiating table, but there has been no response.
Meanwhile, The spectre of new confrontation between Pyongyang and Washington hangs over meetings between China, Japan and South Korea this week, with growing risks North Korean actions could end an uneasy detente and upend recent diplomatic efforts. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping separately today.