Friday, 27 April, 2018

Japan Worried Over Suspected North Korea Sanctions Breach

Joseph Yun GETTYJoseph Yun will step down from his North Korea role at the end of the week
Gerardo Duncan | 02 March, 2018, 08:09

The Post noted that Yun also served as the USA official tasked with communicating with North Korean representatives at the United Nations in NY, the backchannel used by diplomats to communicate even while official channels are closed. "Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson has told me he appreciates my service and did not want me to go, but he accepts it reluctantly".

Yun's decision comes as North Korea hinted it might be willing to cooperate with the U.S. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Sunday that North Korea may be open to talks.

Last year, President Trump linked trade restrictions on China to Chinese pressures on North Korea, stating, "If China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade, a lot differently toward trade".

The state department also does not have a confirmed assistant secretary for the East Asian and Pacific Affairs department.

Since his appointment as the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy by the Obama administration in October 2016, Yun has been a key player in implementing USA strategy and dealing with the limited bilateral relations maintained by the two countries.

On Monday, Trump responded to the North's reported overture by saying talks will happen only "under the right conditions".

The shift does not mean Japan will ease up on its campaign of raising economic and diplomatic pressure on the North.

While Yun did not provide any details about his resignation on Tuesday, he has been a vocal proponent of diplomatic engagement with North Korea at a time President Donald Trump and other senior administration officials talk up military options. We want to talk also only under the right conditions.

Yun told South Korea's Yonhap news agency he was "very hopeful about talks".

Yun visited Pyongyang in June to secure the release of US college student Otto Warmbier, who had been imprisoned for 17 months for stealing a propaganda poster.

While his tenure was praised publicly by the State Department, one senior administration official said Yun would not be missed because he contradicted Trump's policies, while at a daily press briefing White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders brushed off questions about the impact of Yun's departure.

South Korea's foreign minister has said Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test and 20 ballistic missile launches previous year amount to a "blatant affront" to the United Nations' nuclear test ban treaty.

North Korean diplomats often spar with U.S. officials at the disarmament body in Geneva. High seas petroleum transfers to North Korean vessels are prohibited under U.N. Security Council economic sanctions on Pyongyang's nuclear program.

Washington plans to dispatch U.S. Coast Guard cutters to the Asia-Pacific region to thwart North Korean smuggling attempts and enforce global sanctions, a move generally welcomed by Japan.

Yun, who has been hopeful about using diplomacy to solve the crisis posed by the North's nuclear program, is leaving before formal talks have taken place between Washington and Pyongyang.

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