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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

16:00 June 11, 2021

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

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Putin calls for guaranteeing N. Korea's security to resolve nuclear quandary

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for guaranteeing the security of North Korea to resolve the standoff over its nuclear program, stressing that pressure and sanctions alone are not going to solve the quandary.

Putin made the remark during a virtual session with chiefs of global news agencies at an annual economic forum in St. Petersburg on Friday (Russia time), as the nuclear negotiations between the North and the United States remain deadlocked after the breakdown of the Hanoi summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then U.S. President Donald Trump in early 2019.

"The North Korean nuclear problem is not going to be resolved by pressuring the North and toughening the sanctions against it," Putin said through an interpreter when asked by Cho Sung-boo, CEO and president of Yonhap News Agency in Seoul to comment on Moscow's stance on North Korean nuclear issues.

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Biden will appoint special envoy for N. Korean human rights as required: Blinken

WASHINGTON, June 7 (Yonhap) -- The Joe Biden administration will appoint a special envoy for North Korean human rights as required by law, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday.

Blinken, however, said he does not yet have an exact timeline for such an appointment.

"We will be coming forward with that," he said when asked if the Biden administration planned to appoint a special envoy for North Korean human rights in the near future.

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U.S. will work for family reunion of Korean-Americans with DPRK relatives: Blinken

WASHINGTON, June 7 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged Monday to work with both South Korea and North Korea to help realize long-awaited reunions of Korean-Americans with their loved ones in the North, calling it a "heart wrenching" issue.

The top U.S. diplomat also said he is "deeply sensitive" to the issue.

"This is just heart wrenching, knowing that people have been not only separated but don't even know the fate of their loved ones," Blinken said in a hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee.

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N. Korea faces serious humanitarian crisis: report

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea faces a serious humanitarian crisis due to food insecurity and limited health care, aggravated by global sanctions and the coronavirus, an international nongovernmental organization has said.

According to the latest Inform Severity Index report compiled by the Geneva-based Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), North Korea faces a "high" level of humanitarian crisis severity.

This represented the second-highest level of a six-tier crisis evaluation scale. The report also ranked North Korea among the countries with "high constraints" in humanitarian access.

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N. Korea appears focused on internal affairs: defense minister

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to be focused on taking care of internal affairs rather than showing unusual military moves, Defense Minister Suh Wook said Wednesday.

Suh made the assessment during a parliamentary session when asked if there were any unusual moves by the North Korean military after Pyongyang condemned Seoul over the lifting of U.S. curbs on South Korea's missile development.

"Based on what we know, (the North) seems to be focusing on internal affairs than such activities," Suh said. "We are making utmost efforts to maintain a firm readiness posture, with the worst-case scenario always in mind. We are also closely following the North's military activities."

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U.S. seeks to make progress with N. Korea through diplomacy: State Dept.

WASHINGTON, June 9 (Yonhap) -- The United States seeks to engage with North Korea diplomatically to make progress toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a State Department spokesman said Wednesday.

Ned Price also said the newly appointed special U.S. representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, will continue to work toward that end.

"So the policy that we have spoken to calls for what we have deemed a calibrated, practical approach, that explores diplomacy, that is predicated on diplomacy with the DPRK to make tangible progress, that increases the security for our people, for our allies in the region, as well as for deployed forces," the department spokesman said in a press briefing, referring to the new U.S. policy toward North Korea.

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N. Korean missiles pose increasing threat to U.S., allies: Secretary Austin

WASHINGTON, June 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea continues to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, posing an increasing threat to the United States and its allies, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Thursday.

"Pyongyang continues to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, posing an increasing threat to regional allies and partners and with ambitions to be able to strike the U.S. homeland," Austin said in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee before a hearing on the Defense Department's request of a US$715 billion budget for fiscal year 2022.

Austin named North Korea as one of four countries that pose threats to the United States, along with China, Russia and Iran.
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