NAPSNet Daily Report
tuesday, october 14, 2003

I. United Staes


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I. United Staes

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1. ROK-DPRK Nuclear Diplomacy

Agence France-Presse ("SOUTH KOREA DELEGATES IN PYONGYANG TO COAX NORTH BACK TO SIX-WAY TALKS," 10/14/03) reported that the ROK's cabinet-level delegation arrived in Pyongyang in an effort to coax the DPRK back to a new round of six-way nuclear crisis talks. A Korean Air chartered plane carried the delegates on a direct flight to Pyongyang, and they kicked off the first high-level inter-Korean meeting since July with a contact between chief delegates, officials said. Unification Minister Jeong Se-Hyun, who heads the five-member Seoul delegation, said he would use the four-day negotiations with the DPRK to help jump-start the six-nation talks. Acrimonious talks in Beijing in late August brought together the two Koreas, the PRC, Japan, Russia and the United States. "I will tell North Korea that from various perspectives, a second round of six-party talks must be held as soon as possible," Jeong told journalists prior to his departure. No date was set for the next round and the DPRK effectively pulled out of the peace process the following day, saying talks were "useless," and that it was better to build up its nuclear deterrent instead. ROK officials, including Jeong, predicted hard negotiations over the next four days of ministerial talks in Pyongyang until Friday. Jeong, briefing government ministers Monday, said he intended to suggest to the North Koreans that unless they moved ahead to resolve the year-long crisis, inter-Korean relations could suffer. "The upcoming talks are going to be a tough round due to the nuclear problem," he was quoted as saying.

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2. ROK-DPRK Relations

The Associated Press (Soo-Jeong Lee, "SOUTH KOREA HEADS TO NORTH FOR TALKS," Seoul, 10/14/03) reported that a ROK delegation traveled to North Korea on Tuesday for Cabinet-level talks on Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons, a program that has heightened international tensions with the isolated communist state. Before the delegation left, Seoul said it would donate 100,000 tons of fertilizer to the DPRK. The DPRK asked for the donations last month, saying earlier aid "helped invigorate inter-Korean relations." The Cabinet-level meetings in Pyongyang, which end Friday, are the 12th held since an inter-Korean summit in 2000 led to a series of joint reconciliation projects. Negotiators are expected to begin talks Wednesday morning at the People's Palace of Culture. "We will try our best to maintain a stable situation on the Korean Peninsula so that people don't feel insecure," ROK Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said in Seoul before his flight to the DPRK.

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3. Japan Domestic Politics

Agence France-Presse ("KOIZUMI PROMISES POSTAL PRIVATISATION TO WIN ELECTION," 10/14/03) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced his ruling Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) campaign platform for the November 9 general election, including a controversial pledge to privatize postal services in 2007. Koizumi, the LDP president, said the party also promised to privatize money-losing public corporations, reform the social security system and sustain economic growth. The prime minister dissolved the lower house of the parliament on Friday, paving the way for the general election. "Privatization of the postal system is no longer Koizumi's personal project," Koizumi -- regarded as a lone wolf in the LDP -- told a press conference at the LDP headquarters about the issue that many in his own party oppose. "This has become a promise made by a political party for the first time." "Our private sector has gone through major reform, with many firms having conducted restructuring. But the public sector with its vested interests is still slow to change," he said. "That's why we must reform the public sector. We will let the private sector handle what it can do. We will allow local governments to handle what they can do" rather than the national government making decisions for them, Koizumi said. The party said it would hold a national debate to decide details of the postal service privatization in one year. The LDP, which in 1993 briefly lost its grip on power for the first time since its foundation in 1955, hopes to increase its majority in the lower chamber of parliament. In the latest opinion poll released on Tuesday, support for Koizumi's cabinet rose to 62 percent from 61 percent in September, with the disapproval rating unchanged at 28 percent, according to Japan's public broadcasting network NHK.

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4. ROK on Iraq Troop Dispatch

Agence France-Presse ("NO TROOP DISPATCH COMMITMENT DURING ROH-BUSH SUMMIT: SOUTH KOREA," 10/14/03) reported that the ROK will give no commitment to dispatching troops to Iraq as requested by Washington when President Roh Moo-Hyun meets his US counterpart George W. Bush next week, officials said. Roh and Bush are to hold a summit on October 20 in Bangkok, Thailand, on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. "It will be difficult for the upcoming South Korea-US summit to decide on whether or not to send troops," Ban Ki-Moon, chief advisor for foreign affairs for Roh, told journalists. "Instead, it will be a chance for President Roh to explain the government's position, as the issue of dispatching troops to Iraq has become a key security issue." Ban's remarks, certain to raise eyebrows in Washington, came amid reports of a heated exchange between the US and the ROK on the DPRK nuclear crisis. The New York Times said ROK Foreign Minister Yoon Young Kwan told his US counterpart Colin Powell last month in New York that Roh would not consider sending troops to Iraq unless the US gave ground to the DPRK on the nuclear issue. Powell, according to several officials familiar with the exchange, curtly told Yoon, "That is not how allies deal with each other," the Times reported. Roh had previously linked progress on the DPRK nuclear crisis to any decision to commit thousands of ROK troops to Iraq at the request of the United States. ROK media reports have said Washington has asked for 5,000 combat troops but the figure has not been confirmed here. The request has triggered protests from South Koreans opposed to the US invasion of Iraq who fault the US hard line on the DPRK over the nuclear crisis.

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5. ROK Presidential Politics

Agence France-Presse ("ROK OPPOSITION THREATENS TO IMPEACH PRESIDENT," 10/14/03) reported that the ROK's opposition Grand National Party (GNP), which controls parliament, said that President Roh Moo-Hyun could be impeached if he were implicated in a political corruption affair. Roh, taking responsibility for a graft scandal targeting one of his closest former aides, called Monday for a December 15 referendum on his rule, saying he would step down if he lost the vote. But Choe Byung-Yul, head of the GNP, said impeachment was a more appropriate course if Roh was found to be linked to the scandal. In a speech before the National Assembly, Choe demanded a thorough probe into allegations that Choi Do-Sul, Roh's former presidential secretary, had received some one million dollars from SK Group, the ROK's third largest conglomerate, after Roh was elected president in December. "I hereby make it very clear that if the president himself is involved in the corruption scandal in any shape, it should not be a subject of a referendum but the subject of impeachment," Choe said. Choi, a life-time confidant of Roh, appeared before prosecutors Tuesday for questioning. He denies taking bribes from SK Corp. The GNP's Choe said the probe into the scandal should be concluded before the National Assembly considers legal steps for an unprecedented referendum on the fate of an incumbent president. Senior Secretary for Information of the presidential Blue House, Lee Byung-Wan, said he was "appalled at the audacity" of Choe for attacking Roh's government over corruption. He stressed that the GNP has been accused of diverting 100 billion won (87 million dollars) of government money for electioneering before the 1997 presidential election and one of its lawmakers has been accused of accepting 10 billion won (8.7 million dollars) in bribes from SK Group. "It's not even worthy of a comment," Lee said of Choe's remarks on impeachment.

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6. PRC Space Flight

Agence France-Presse ("TIGHT SECURITY AT LAUNCH SITE AS THE PRC COUNTS DOWN TO LIFT-OFF," Beijing, 10/14/03) reported that tight security surrounded the remote launch center that will fire the PRC's first man into orbit as the countdown began to the PRC joining an elite club of space-faring nations. The PRC government has been coy on the precise launch date but acknowledged Tuesday it would a momentous day. "The whole PRC nation is looking forward to its success," said foreign ministry spokesman Zhang Qiyue. "It is an important advance for all of mankind in exploring outer space. The PRC stands ready to cooperate with the rest of the world on the peaceful use of outer space." The leading candidate to be on the PRC's first manned space mission, and in the process become a household name, was identified by a pro-Beijing newspaper as Yang Liwei. The Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po said Yang, who was born in 1965 and hails from Saizhong county in northeastern Liaoning province, topped a list of three astronauts who have been whittled down from an initial batch of 14 following physical and psychological examinations. Second in the pecking order is Zhai Zhigang and third is Nie Haisheng, according to the newspaper. However, it remains unclear how many astronauts will be inside Shenzhou V when it blasts off from the remote Gobi desert in the northern Inner Mongolia region sometime between Wednesday and Friday. The launch site, under clear blue skies, was sealed off Tuesday with a 10-man military blockade turning back vehicles without security clearance on the only road 35 kilometres (21 miles) south of the Jiuquan Launch Centre. All systems though appear to be go.

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA PULLS PLUG ON LIVE BROADCAST OF MANNED SPACE LAUNCH," 10/14/03) reported that PRC authorities will not allow the upcoming launch of the country's first manned space flight to be broadcast live, state television sources and newspapers said. "It won't be broadcast live. The launching unit doesn't want it to be broadcast live," an official in the manager's office of the PRC Central Television Station's Channel 9, an English channel, said Tuesday. "It's the same for all the CCTV channels," said the official, who declined to be identified. "It's been decided. This decision won't change." The official added: "There will still be a broadcast, but it will be delayed. It will be broadcast as soon as possible." He said he could not comment on the government decision, but said his station had originally expected to show the history-making event live. Fear of public disappointment and criticism if the mission fails could be the reason behind the decision, analysts say. With millions potentially watching, failure could mean a publicity disaster for the PRC Communist Party, which hopes the flight will not only promote patriotism and national cohesion but legitimacy for its rule, analysts say.

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7. German Scholar DPRK Spy

Agence France-Presse ("SCHOLAR VOWS TO SEVER NKOREA LINKS," 10/14/03) reported that a German scholar of ROK origin accused of spying for the DPRK on vowed to sever all ties with Pyongyang and give up his German citizenship in order to remain in the ROK. Song Doo-Yul, 59, is under questioning by ROK prosecutors over his alleged illegal pro-DPRK activities. If indicted, Song could be deported to his adopted homeland, a course that would avert a politically sensitive trial in a case that has highlighted deep divisions between conservatives and younger liberals over the DPRK. However, Song, who returned to the ROK last month after living in exile for 37 years, said deportation would be the worst outcome for him. "Above all, I have come here to live in this land," Song told a news conference televised by Seoul-based cable news station YTN. Song, a sociology professor at Muenster University, has denied spy charges, while describing himself a "marginal man" who belongs neither to the ROK or the DPRK. The ROK's main spy agency, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), says that Song has admitted to being a politburo member of the DPRK's ruling Workers Party under the alias of Kim Chul-Su. "To live a life as a balanced 'marginal man,' I will quit the Workers' Party," Song said. "I will give up my German citizenship ... I promise to endure whatever inconvenience, punishment or pain will follow." Communism and pro-DPRK acts are banned by the national security laws of the ROK which is still technically at war with the DPRK more than half a century after the 1950-1953 Korean War.

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Shanghai, People's Republic of China

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