10/02/2019, 13.29
KOREA – UNITED STATES
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Pyongyang fires another missile two days before talks with Washington

The missile was launched eastward, off the east coast near Wonsan. Negotiations on denuclearisation stopped last February. For Maryknoll Missionaries regional superior, “Talking is better than destroying. The alternative to dialogue is terrible suffering for millions of people ".

Seoul (AsiaNews) – North Korea this morning fired what experts believe to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from the waters off its east coast, South Korea’s military reported, demonstrating its nuclear delivery capabilities just days before resuming denuclearisation talks with the United States.

Pyongyang’s latest test comes the day after its first Deputy Foreign Minister, Choe Son-hui, announced that his government and the United States would restart negotiations this week. The two sides will have "preliminary contact" on Friday and hold negotiations the following day, he said.

Under UN Security Council resolutions, the North is banned from test-firing ballistic missiles, but US President Donald J Trump has refrained from criticising Pyongyang’s recent tests. Instead, he stressed that it did not test long-range missiles or nuclear devices in the current phase of peace efforts.

The nuclear talks have been stalled since the breakdown of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam in February.

For the diplomats of the two countries, it is a hectic time, after North Korea’s news agency published Choe Son-hui’ statement, which was followed by one from Morgan Ortagus, spokesman for the US State Department. "I can confirm that US and DPRK officials plan to meet within the next week," she said.

Fr Gerard Hammond, regional superior of the Maryknoll missionaries (MM) in Korea, spoke to AsiaNews about the current situation.

"My expectations for the resumption of talks are always three: peace on the peninsula, reconciliation between North and South Koreans, and dialogue. The people of the two countries have never objected to this," said the 85-year-old priest, who is a member of the Eugene Bell Foundation (EBF), a Christian NGO that has been providing care and support to tuberculosis patients in North Korea for years.

"As long as Washington and Pyongyang are engaged in talks, the process will move in the right direction,” he explained. “Trust between the two parties is certainly of great help. Contact, human relationships are important; something good will come out.”

“Of course, this is primarily a political issue but as human beings we must aspire to peace in the peninsula. This 'back and forth' in the negotiations is a bit frustrating but we have to be realistic: talking is better than destroying.”

“The alternative to dialogue is terrible suffering for tens of millions of people. Difficulties have existed for years, and time is needed to solve the problem. As always, the fact that the parties meet could represent a turning point.”

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