NAPSNet Daily Report
august 25, 2003

I. United States


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I. United States

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1. DPRK Multilateral Talks

The Associated Press (Ted Anthony, "ENVOYS HEAD TO CHINA FOR N.KOREA TALKS," Beijing, 08/25/03) reported that a Russian diplomat arrived in the PRC on Monday ahead of talks on the DPRK's nuclear program. But Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov also told Russia's Interfax News Agency that predictions of a breakthrough in the six-nation talks would be premature. Representatives from the ROK arrived on Monday afternoon, and envoys from the US and Japan touched down in Beijing hours later. DPRK diplomats were due Tuesday morning. The talks begin Wednesday and continue through Friday. Losyukov, arriving at Beijing's Capital International Airport, told reporters he was reasonably confident that, at the least, the meeting would produce promises of more dialogue. "We're very optimistic as we approach the beginning of the talks. We will try to make sure they continue," said Losyukov, who is heading the Russian delegation at the talks. Later, though, he said to Interfax: "Alas, the odds that we will reach an agreement at this round of negotiations in Beijing are very slim. It is hardly possible to achieve progress at the first round."

Reuters (Brian Rhoads, "PROTEST AND PESSIMISM PRECEDE NORTH KOREA TALKS," Beijing, 08/25/03) reported that Russia pledged Monday to work to ensure everyone stays at the table at six-party talks on the DPRK's nuclear crisis in Beijing this week but said chances of a deal were "very poor." Emotional protests in Japan and the ROK for and against the DPRK illustrated the chasm negotiators face as they gather for three days of talks aimed at ending the 10-month standoff. "The chances of reaching agreement in this present round of negotiations in Beijing are, unfortunately, very poor," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov was quoted by the Russian news agency Interfax as saying in Beijing. "We will strive to propel the talks to go on," Losyukov, who is heading the Russian delegation to the talks, was quoted as saying earlier by China's official Xinhua news agency. Diplomats from the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia meet at the exclusive Diaoyutai state guest house from Wednesday to Friday. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly was due in Beijing Monday evening. The ROK's delegation arrived on Monday afternoon and Japanese negotiators were expected later in the day

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2. US DPRK Envoy Resigns Agence France-Presse ("US NORTH KOREA NEGOTIATOR LEAVES STATE DEPARTMENT," Washington, 08/25/03) reported that Jack Pritchard, a US envoy in talks with North Korea, has left the government, days before crucial six-nation nuclear crisis talks in Beijing, officials said. Pritchard, not part of the delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly which arrived in the PRC capital on Monday, found himself estranged from the center of Bush administration policymaking on the DPRK. In recent months, he had been the main contact between DPRK and the US through a channel of communication at the United Nations -- the only direct diplomatic link between the two Cold War foes. "After a distinguished career in government that has included service in the US military, with the Department of Defense and with the State Department, Ambassador Charles Pritchard, known as Jack Pritchard, has decided to join the private sector," said State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker. "Last Friday, August 22nd, was his last day with the Department of State as special envoy for negotiations with (North Korea.) "Secretary Powell specifically said to note how much he appreciates everything Ambassador Pritchard has done. We certainly wish him well in his new role in the private sector." Reeker denied the departure of Pritchard, who had also served under President Bill Clinton, was linked to his absence from the US delegation at the Beijing talks which begin on Wednesday. "My understanding was the decision to depart at this time was a personal one, one that he had been making for several months, and made the effective date on Friday," he said. Pritchard also formerly served as US Representative to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization.

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3. US on DPRK Multilateral Talks

Agence France-Presse ("US ENTERS NORTH KOREA NUKE TALKS WITH HINT OF COMPROMISE," Washington, 08/25/03) reported that US President George W. Bush's loathing for DPRK is no secret -- but his administration is sending surprising hints of flexibility ahead of this week's six-nation nuclear crisis talks. After vilifying Kim Jong-Il's regime, refusing to submit to "nuclear blackmail" and waging a bruising internal battle over Korea policy, the Bush administration now sincerely hopes the talks will promote a peaceful resolution, officials and analysts say. But few expect dramatic progress in Beijing at the dialogue starting Wednesday, at which the State Department's top East Asia hand, James Kelly, will join envoys from the PRC, the DPRK, the ROK, Japan and Russia. The US is not prepared to budge on its central demand -- the complete, verifiable and irreversible end to Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. Within those guidelines, however, there are hopes that creative diplomacy can finesse a face-saving way out of the showdown for both Pyongyang and Washington. "I think there is at the highest levels of the US government an interest in resolving this conflict peacefully," said John Wolfstahl of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Bush, who has achieved his goal of securing a multinational approach to the crisis, appears to have directed a change of nuance in North Korea policy, Wolfstahl said. "There is also a recognition that by itself or working with its partners, it needs to provide some incentives for North Korea to give up its nuclear program. "That doesn't mean the US is going to be opening up the Treasury but ... we are prepared to be a little bit more forthcoming and show a little bit more of what the new relationship could be like if North Korea were to satisfy US security concerns." A senior State Department official signaled on Friday that Washington was not irrevocably opposed to the idea of other parties to the talks offering the DPRK some kind of incentives to freeze its nuclear development. "There could be inducements that would really trouble us, there could be suggestions to the North Koreans that would be very positive, things that help North Korea move in positive directions whether it be in the nuclear area or other area," the official said.

4. PRC Role in DPRK Multilateral Talks

The Associated Press (Ted Anthony, "CHINA GETS INVOLVED IN N. NOREA TALKS," Beijing, 08/25/03) and Agence France-Presse ("CHINA USES NKOREA CRISIS TO MANOEUVRE ITSELF IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY," 08/25/03) reported that a newly pragmatic PRC launched its most significant diplomatic offensive in years to bring Pyongyang and Washington to talks in Beijing and will be working frantically to prevent the dialogue from dying. The PRC has been an active mediator in the confrontation between the two sides which has rumbled on for 10 months. The PRC mounted months of diplomacy designed at finding a format acceptable to both the DPRK and the US. Some experts say the PRC's active role in the issue reflects a deeper change in its foreign policy, as it starts integrating more into the global order. Other say it had little option but to get involved to slap down its unstable neighbor, but nevertheless cleverly seized the opportunity to establish itself as an influential and responsible member of the international community. "China is now enjoying status in the international community unlike several years ago," said Seoul-based Dong-bok Lee, an expert on Northeast Asian relations from the US-based think-tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "As China develops, it is seeking a position in the upper echelons of the international community as a leading country and responsible member and that has required China to exercise a measure of influence to impress the international community. "It has achieved this very well." The PRC is seen to be in a win-win situation by potentially easing an irksome problem on its borders while shoring up relations with key partners. But while it has managed to get the parties to the table, the outcome is less certain and it will be working hard behind the scenes to ensure the talks at least move to another round and do not end in animosity. "China wants to defuse the crisis and make sure the North continues to remain hooked into discussions so it can be checked," he said. "It also wants to make sure the US doesn't restart any destabilising actions. My feeling though it that they are unsure how the situation will develop. They might know what the US is doing but they don't really know what Kim is up to."

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5. DPRK-Japan Ferry Arrival

The Associated Press (Hans Greimel, "JAPAN BARS N. KOREAN SHIP FROM LEAVING," Niigata, 08/25/03) and Agence France-Presse ("DPRK FERRY ARRIVES AT JAPAN AMID LOUD PROTESTS, WELCOME," 08/25/03) reported that a DPRK ferry previously suspected of smuggling money and drugs docked here to loud protests and cheers of welcome on its first port call for seven months. Some 1,500 police surrounded Niigata port, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of Tokyo, where the ferry Man Gyong Bong-92 arrived around 8:30 am (2330 GMT Sunday). The visit by the ship -- the only direct link between Japan and the DPRK -- came two days ahead of the start of six-way talks in Beijing aimed at halting Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. Thirty four passengers stepped off the ferry as about a dozen crew members stood on deck, waving and clapping at 120 members of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryong) who were waiting to greet the ship. DPRK nationals on board and on the quayside sang songs praising DPRK leader Kim Jong-Il and his father Kim Il-Sung before singing a popular DPRK song, "I am glad to see you." But the ship's arrival also met with loud shouts of "go home, go home" by about 120 supporters and families of Japanese nationals kidnapped by the DPRK during the Cold War era. The ferry made its last port call in January amid suspicions over Pyongyang's nuclear arms program and after the DPRK admitted its agents had kidnapped Japanese nationals. The DPRK cancelled a scheduled voyage in June after Japanese authorities said they would intensify checks on the vessel after officials said the ship was suspected of involvement with drug smuggling, illegal cash transfers and spying activities. Transport ministry officials boarded the vessel just before noon to carry out an inspection which was expected to take about five hours to complete.

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6. Japan-ROK-Russia Joint Military Drill

Agence France-Presse ("RUSSIA, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA, CARRY OUT JOINT MILITARY DRILL IN PACIFIC," 08/25/03) reported that some 75 Russian ships, over 20 aircraft and around 30,000 troops carried out a joint exercise with military teams from Japan and South Korea off Russia's Pacific coast, officials said. The number of Japanese and ROK troops and vessels involved was not specified. The drill is part of Russia's largest military exercise for 15 years, which was launched Saturday and will end on Thursday, the officials added. Monday's joint drill saw participants tackle the consequences of a mock explosion on an ice-breaker. US ships had also been scheduled to take part, but their arrival was delayed by bad weather. In a separate wargame, monitored by Canadian, PRC and ROK military observers, Russian troops fought off "terrorists" who had seized part of the Russian far eastern mainland.

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7. Japan Falun Gong

Agence France-Presse ("FALUNGONG FOLLOWERS RALLY IN JAPAN," 08/24/03) reported that some 200 followers of the Falungong spiritual movement rallied in Japan, accusing former PRC president Jiang Zemin of massacre charges. They demonstrated in a park in this port city southwest of Tokyo on Sunday and held a mock trial for Jiang, finding him guilty of unfair prosecution of the movement and torturing hundreds of members to death. Then, they marched through the streets, holding a banner that read: "Bring PRC Dictator Jiang Zemin to Justice!" Falungong says its followers practise meditation to improve their physical and mental well-being, but Beijing brands the group a dangerous cult. China banned the Falungong four years ago after some 10,000 followers of the group surrounded the Communist Party leadership compound in central Beijing to protest a government crack-down.

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8. PRC-Japan Mustard Gas Issue

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA TURNS UP HEAT ON JAPAN OVER MUSTARD GAS," 08/24/03) reported that the PRC turned up the heat on Japan over the death of man who came in contact with World War II-era mustard gas left by retreating Japanese troops, saying the public was "outraged" by the incident. "The PRC people are outraged by the incident," State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, the former foreign minister, was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency on Sunday. "The Japanese government should take a responsible attitude towards history and speed up the destruction of the chemical weapons they left in China, in accordance with the relevant bilateral agreements and international pacts." He said the hundreds of thousands of chemical weapons abandoned throughout the PRC by Japanese soldiers in the closing months of World War II "chronically endanger" the safety of the PRC people. The PRC on Friday summoned the Japanese ambassador to Beijing to express its anger after Li Guizhen died from massive burns after being exposed to the gas earlier this month. Japan expressed its condolences over the incident and promised to "dispose of the dangerous chemical weapons as soon as possible". Five containers of the lethal gas, sealed with lead and wrapped in plastic, were uncovered on a construction site in Qiqihar city on August 4. One was accidentally broken, causing an oil-like substance to leak into surrounding areas, poisoning at least 41 people. It was later confirmed to be mustard gas, which Tokyo admitted was buried by its army nearly 60 years ago. Some 32 victims remain in hospital, with five listed in critical condition, the PRC's state press said.

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9. PRC-Tibet Relations

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA GAINING UPPER HAND OVER TIBETAN RELIGION," 08/24/03) reported that one of Tibetan Buddhism's most important monasteries, the Tashilhunpo situated on the roof of the world next to the Himalayas, appears peaceful and orderly after years of upheaval over the reincarnation of a highly revered spiritual leader. Lamas and monks dressed in maroon robes express devotion for the 11th Panchen Lama, 13-year-old Gyaltsen Norbu, as their spiritual leader despite the soul boy having been selected by China's communist and atheist government. At all the major chapels of this sprawling 15th century monastery, pictures of the young Lama are placed side by side with those of the 10th Panchen Lama who died here in 1989 after a lifetime largely spent in Beijing in jail or under house arrest. The Panchen Lama is of particular significance to the PRC authorities in political terms as he is traditionally responsible for choosing the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's most revered spiritual leader. By playing a major role in his education, many believe Beijing is seeking to control the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama once the 63-year old incumbent -- living in exile in Dharmasala, India -- dies. The PRC government would then have a firmer control over Tibetan Buddhists, who have been the traditional rulers of the region and who have also been the most vocal in opposing Beijing's rule. Further strengthening the PRC's grip is an ongoing multi-billion dollar effort to bring Tibet into the modern world, an undertaking that has clearly won over many Tibetans seeking material gains, but largely at the expense of their unique spirituality. "The 11th Panchen Lama was chosen before Sakyamuni (Buddha) as mandated by the 10th Panchen Lama and in accordance with the regulations of the central government," Cering Dorje, a prominent Lama at Tashilhunpo, told a group of Beijing-based foreign journalists allowed a rare visit to Tibet. Although the present Panchen Lama was chosen in 1995 over another soul boy selected by the exiled Dalai Lama, he has only been allowed two short visits to the monastery which is his traditional seat, one in 2001 and one last year. "When he came he seemed very intelligent," said Dobu Qiong, another leading monk allowed to talk with journalists. "He mostly talked about unity, studying religion and supporting him," he said. Other monks said they knew the 11th Panchen Lama was studying in Beijing, but did not know who his teachers were or why he was not allowed to study at Tashilhunpo, as has been the tradition. "We are told he will come back to study at Tashilhunpo, but we don't know when," one monk said. "Maybe this is a decision that (President) Hu Jintao will make," he said with a grin.

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10. ROK-DPRK World Student Games

Agence France-Presse ("SOUTH KOREA BOOSTS SECURITY FOR NORTH KOREANS AFTER STUDENT GAMES PROTEST," 08/25/03) reported that security will be boosted around DPRK athletes and officials at the World Student Games after a protest erupted into violence over the weekend, organizers said here. Activists should also refrain from "reckless protests" during the games, the organizing committee's president said. Scuffles broke out on Sunday when DPRK journalists confronted a peaceful demonstration against Pyongyang's communist leadership outside the main press center here. "DUOC (Daegu Universiade Organizing Committee) will take into serious consideration and work out measures to further strengthen safety and security for DPRK (North Korea) athletes, reporters, officials and cheering squad to prevent such an incident from happening again," said Cho Haenyoung, who is also the mayor of this city 300 kilometers (190 miles) south-east of Seoul. "In addition, DUOC would like to ask people to refrain from staging reckless protests or demonstrations that may go against the true amateur spirit, the very philosophy of the Universiade." A dozen protesters had been holding up pictures of emaciated children and banners denouncing DPRK leader Kim Jong-Il when they were confronted by four DPRK journalists. More than 100 police spent about 10 minutes breaking up the melee, which spread across the press center forecourt and inside the building. The DPRK later threatened to withdraw from the games in protest.

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11. Japan National ID System

The Associated Press ("JAPAN MOVES AHEAD WITH NATIONAL ID SYSTEM," Tokyo, 08/25/03) reported that a national computerized ID system that was criticized for its big-brother overtones when launched last year became fully operational Monday, allowing Japan's 126 million citizens to cut through red tape with an 11-digit number. The online database, which contains every citizen's name, address, birthdate and sex, is the centerpiece of a government initiative to speed administrative procedures such as filing change-of-address forms and applying for passports. Three local governments - two subdivisions of Tokyo and a small town north of the capital - continued to boycott the system Monday, and a citizens' group reportedly planned to seek a court injunction to block operations. But the upgrade of the Juki Net system appeared to run smoother than its launch last August, when it was plagued by bugs and sparked protests calling it a threat to individual privacy. At that time six local governments refused to participate. Several finally decided to connect after Japan's Parliament passed a long-debated law in May to protect personal information from abuse by bureaucrats. The data stored in the system after it went online last August was initially used internally by the government. Beginning Monday, local governments began issuing Juki Net ID cards allowing citizens to take advantage of various administrative shortcuts. Some Japanese initially chafed at the idea of being assigned a number, and others complained that it smacked of the kind of surveillance carried out by Japan's pre-World War II authoritarian government. Home Affairs Minister Toranosuke Katayama blamed most of the early resistance on misunderstanding. "It's questionable to me whether detractors of the system really understand the point," Katayama said in a weekend television appearance. "It means more convenience for citizens and a more efficient bureaucracy."

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