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‘Strong possibility’ North Korea’s Kim Jong Un made surprise Beijing visit


An armoured green with yellow horizontal lines train arrived in Beijing on Monday night. This event, including tightened security outside the train station, and tourists being ushered out of the capital’s Tiananmen Square, which usually signals a high-level meeting in the Great Hall of the People there, fed rumours that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Beijing. Assuming it actually took place it was Kim’s first visit to a foreign country since succeeding his father, Kim Jong-il, as supreme leader of North Korea in December 2011 and it was a clear message sent to the world that despite rumours to the contrary, Beijing and Pyongyang remain close allies.

Although the details of the visit remain a closely guarded secret, Kim is believed to have met Chinese President Xi Jinping and possibly other top Communist Party leaders, including Premier Li Keqiang while in the city. There has been no official comment from North Korea, while China’s foreign ministry said it had “no information for the moment”, but more would “be published in due course”.

Pence leaves for Asia, focused on increasing pressure on North Korea


Vice President Pence departs Monday for a five-day trip to Japan and South Korea, a visit to Asia intended to focus almost entirely on rallying allies to ratchet up their pressure on Kim Jong Un’s repressive regime, as well as directly pressing North Korea to stop its nuclear ambitions. Even his final stop — leading the U.S. delegation at the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in PyeongChang, South Korea, on Friday night, and attending an Olympic event Saturday morning — has a clear geopolitical undertone: to combat North Korean propaganda amid the Olympic festivities, White House officials said.

Xi Jinping ‘wants to improve ties with North Korea’


President Xi Jinping has replied to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s message of congratulations after the Communist Party congress, with the Chinese leader saying he is hoping to improve ties between the two nations, according to North Korean state media. Details of Xi’s message were reported by North Korea’s official news agency and say it: “i wish that under the new situation the Chinese side will make efforts with the DPRK to promote relations between the two parties for stable development and thus make a positive contribution to providing the peoples of the two countries with greater happiness and to defend regional peace and stability and common prosperity”, Xi was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency. China, the North’s sole major ally, has grown increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang and has repeatedly called for restraint, urging all sides to negotiate to lessons tensions on the Korean peninsula. Xi has previously sent messages to Kim, most recently last year when he expressed congratulations on the staging of a party congress in North Korea. A senior Chinese official also handed over a letter from Xi to Kim during celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party two years ago. Hwang Jae-ho, an expert on Northeast Asia regional security at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, said the exchange of messages between Kim and Xi meant the two nations did not want their ties to further deteriorate. “Under the current situation, relations between China and North Korea cannot worsen any more”, Hwang said. Wang Sheng, a professor studying Korean affairs at Jilin University in northeast China, said Xi’s reply was a courtesy to Kim. “The interaction reflected that Sino-North Korea relations may warm up a little because there is no major obstacle between two countries except Pyongyang’s nuclear programme”, he said.

North Korea attacks Donald Trump as ‘incurably mentally deranged’


North Korea slammed US President Donald Trump as “incurably mentally deranged” in a personal attack ahead of his first visit to Asia, as the South’s leader insisted Washington could not take military action on the peninsula without his agreement. The US has 28,500 troops stationed in the South to defend it from the North, Trump dubbed Kim “Rocket Man” in the same speech – Pyongyang has tested missiles apparently capable of reaching much of the US mainland – and days later Kim responded with a personal statement calling him a “dotard”, an obscure term for a weak or senile old man. Washington has deployed key military assets including jet fighters and aircraft carriers near the peninsula following the North’s sixth nuclear test in September, which also saw the United Nations impose an eighth set of sanctions on the isolated country. South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday said his country would not develop or possess nuclear weapons, unlike its neighbour. In his address to the National Assembly Moon, who has advocated engagement to bring the North to the negotiating table, insisted: “There should be no military action on the peninsula without our prior consent.” Pyongyang hails its nuclear arsenal as a “treasured sword” to protect itself from potential invasion by its “imperialist enemy” the US, but has threatened to bracket the US Pacific island of Guam with missiles.

Trump’s itinerary includes Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, with all eyes on his message to the North and Kim. In the South Trump is due to address parliament, visit a US military base, and hold a summit with Moon, although he will not go to the Demilitarised Zone that divides the two Koreas.

Kim Jong Un’s plot: biological weapons


With the world already fretting about North Korea unleashing a nuclear war, what with its sophisticated hydrogen bombs and other nuclear weapons – another fear has now gripped the region. According to a latest report, the reclusive nation led by Kim Jong Un is now mass producing deadly batches of biological weapons that could kill tens of thousands of people. A report by the Belfer Centre of Harvard University’s Kennedy School has revealed that North Korea is “mass producing deadly batches of smallpox and the plague.” The report stated that the dictator is harvesting agents such as plague, anthrax and cholera. The report quotes the South Korean Defense Ministry as saying, “North Korea has 13 types of biological weapons agents which it can weaponize within ten days, and anthrax and smallpox are the likely agents it would deploy”. It goes on to reveal, “Agents like anthrax could cause mass casualties with a small amount: only a few kilograms of anthrax, equivalent to a few bottles of wine, released into a dense city could kill 50 percent of the population. If used on a large scale, these weapons can cause not only tens of thousands of deaths, but also create panic and paralyze societies”. On Monday, as the report was revealed, North Korea yet again took a potshot at the U.S. President Donald Trump, calling him a “hooligan” and a “lunatic with his finger over a nuclear button.”A statement by the North Korean government quoted in the KNCA said, “Dignitaries of White House, and State and Defense Departments of the U.S. are having a hard time cooling Trump overheated with a war fever, but only the South Korean puppet forces are fanning up the lunatic fingering a nuclear button. What is ridiculous is the puppet forces’ poor plight of being treated as a street girl even though they play the coquette with the U.S. and serve it with devotion”.


North Korea threatens nuclear fire


Intensifying the war of words further, North Korea on Thursday mocked U.S. President Donald Trump as the “rabid man in the White House”. The reclusive nation has also threatened to attack the United States with an “immense volley of nuclear fire”. The menacing message from Pyongyang coming just days after it warned other countries to avoid an alliance with America if they wanted to evade a nuclear attack on their own nations. A North Korean ambassador said in prepared remarks, “The entire U.S. mainland is within our firing range. And if the U.S. dares to invade our sacred territory even an inch it will not escape our severe punishment in any part of the globe”. The KCNA report featured the statement by the reclusive nation along with photos of Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Jol Ju, smiling at workers in a shoe factory. The statement said, “The U.S. is running amok by introducing under our nose the targets we have set as primary ones. The U.S. should expect that it would face unimaginable strike at an unimaginable time. From the very day of the birth of the DPRK, its people have experienced sanctions and pressure, a war without gunfire. The U.S. is different from the DPRK. Historically, it is the chieftain persistently threatening the DPRK”.

Kim Jong Un promotes his sister to center of leadership


Amid claims of U.S.-led assassination attempts on the North Korean leader, the reclusive nation’s administration is now looking at consolidating power. Kim Jong Un on Sunday, elevated his younger sister Kim Kyung Hui to the powerful political bureau of the ruling Workers’ Party. The promotion moves her closer to the center of the leadership, as the North Korean dictator advances towards consolidating his family’s control over North Korea. The move also comes two days before the North Korean regime celebrates the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party, through which the Kim family controls the country. Kim Jong Un, who is chairman of the party among the other titles he holds, said that North Korea’s nuclear weapons are necessary “for defending the destiny and sovereignty of the country from the protracted nuclear threats of the U.S. imperialists” Michael Madden, an expert on the Kim family who runs the North Korea Leadership Watch blog, thinks that Kim Jong Un might be positioning his sister as the next heir to the family dynasty.

CIA believes Kim Jong Un is a very rational actor


Despite the months of hostile talk indicating a possible war breaking out, now a top CIA spook has said that the North Korean dictator is actually a “very rational actor”. U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed changed emotions for Kim Jong Un over the months, from calling him a “tough cookie” who he would be “honored to meet” to labelling him an “evil madman” and “Little Rocket Man.” Kim Jong Un has meanwhile called Trump “deranged” and a “dotard” Yong Suk Lee, deputy assistant director of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center has said, “The last person who wants conflict on the Korean Peninsula is Kim Jong Un” Lee said, Kim’s “long-term goal is very clear,[and it’s been clear for the history of the Kim family regime, to come to some kind of big-power agreement with the United States and remove US forces from the peninsula”, Lee and other CIA officials believe there has been a “clarity of purpose” to the way the North Korean ruler is acting on the world stage. They believe that Pyongyang’s goal is to gain recognition as a major nuclear power and eventually negotiate a deal with the United States that sees American forces leave the Korean peninsula.

Kim’s threat to ‘tame’ US President Trump prompts 4.7 million North Koreans to join fight, media says


North Korea claims 4.7 million of its citizens have volunteered to join or re-enlist in the military since leader Kim Jong-un threatened to “tame” US President Trump “with fire” last week, North Korean state media reported. Millions of young men and 1.22 million women said they wanted sign up to counter the US since Friday, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported. Pyongyang has previously claimed that North Koreans have volunteered to join the military as part of propaganda campaigns to boost solidarity, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.


Trump-North Korea battle intensifies further


As the war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
intensifies, threatening to turn into an actual war – the region is bracing for more tensions. According to analysts,
the escalation in rhetoric is increasing the risk of a miscalculation by one side or the other that could have
massive repercussions. On Sunday morning, Pyongyang staged a major anti-U.S. rally, with the country’s state-
run television KRT airing a video showing tens of thousands of people attending a rally at Kim Il Sung square in
the capital. KCNA news agency said more than 100,000 people gathered for the rally on Saturday and delivered
speeches supporting comments made by Kim Jong Un earlier in the week. The North would consider the highest
level of hard-line countermeasure in history, against the United States and that Trump’s comments had
confirmed his nuclear programme was the correct path.

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