New S. Korean leader eager for summitry despite escalating U.S.-North Korean tensions

by WorldTribune Staff, May 16, 2017

Leftist South Korean President Moon Jae-In said he would seek to engage with North Korea despite the Kim Jong-Un regime’s continued ballistic missile tests and Pyongyang’s rising dispute with the United States.

Meanwhile, the U.S. naval strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson is staying near the Korean Peninsula on an open-ended mission, a South Korean defense official said on May 16, according to Yonhap.

South Korean President Moon Jae-In. / AFP / Getty Images

“Joint drills between South Korea and the U.S. (involving the Vinson) are under way,” Cdr. Jang Wook, a spokesman for the South Korean Navy, told reporters, adding the end date has not yet been set.

A South Korean official said the government plans to review how to prepare for an inter-Korean summit anniversary event slated for June after taking into account its ties with North Korea and Pyongyang’s nuclear issue, Yonhap reported on May 16.

“Details will be decided after the government reviews them by taking into account (various) factors such as inter-Korean policy and North Korea’s nuclear problems,” the official said.

North Korea’s top envoy to China, Ji Jae-Ryong, on May 15 called on South Korea’s new government to respect and fully implement inter-Korean agreements on reconciliation and cooperation.

South Korea’s unification ministry responded that it is not logical for North Korea to call for the South to honor inter-Korean agreements on cooperation while testing a new ballistic missile.

“The reason why the inter-Korean agreements have not been fully carried out is that North Korea has conducted nuclear and missile provocations,” a unification ministry official said

Stars & Stripes reported that the USS Vinson’s Asia patrol was “extended about a month amid a series of North Korean missile launches and speculation that the communist state could soon conduct a nuclear test.”

The Vinson is scheduled to be replaced by the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, which has its homeport in Japan and reportedly departed for routine patrol in the Asia-Pacific region after months of regular maintenance.

The Reagan successfully completed sea trials last week and embarked on its “regularly scheduled patrol” along with accompanying warships, according to the Stars & Stripes.

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