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« Reply #1800 on: July 08, 2006, 02:40:03 PM »

Dealing with North Korea may prove tricky

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer 57 minutes ago

UNITED NATIONS - China is North Korea's No. 1 ally and trading partner. South Korea and Japan are key economic players. The United States offers the isolated Communist state diplomatic recognition and security guarantees.

And Russia — which has worked in recent years to re-establish Soviet-era ties with Pyongyang — also brings political and economic clout.

Yet North Korea brushed aside warnings from these friends and foes when it launched a barrage of ballistic missiles. Then, ignoring near universal condemnation, it threatened new missile tests and retaliation against anyone trying to stop them.

All parties agree that a peaceful solution depends on Pyongyang's rejoining stalled six-party talks on its nuclear program.

But who, if anyone, has the leverage to get them back to the table?

U.N. and other diplomatic efforts are intensifying to try to pressure Pyongyang. China is sending an envoy to the North, and South Korea is holding high-level talks with Pyongyang next week.

Japan, a possible target of North Korean missiles, is sponsoring a Security Council resolution calling for sanctions against Pyongyang, which China and Russia oppose. It unilaterally imposed limited sanctions this week, including banning a North Korean ferry from Japanese ports.

The North has said it would consider sanctions a declaration of war, and a North Korean envoy responded Friday by threatening retaliation against Japan if the measures aren't lifted.

Beijing and Moscow are clearly concerned that sanctions and putting a resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter — which allows military enforcement — could lead North Korea to launch more missiles and to withdraw completely from the six-party talks, thereby closing the main arena for diplomatic exchange.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said countries with influence, clearly referring to China, have the responsibility to bring the North Koreans back into compliance with a moratorium on missile launches and back into dialogue. The talks involving the United States, Russia, China, the two Koreas and Japan have been stalled since September.

"It's a question of when and under what circumstances North Korea will come to its senses and proceed back into the talks," Bolton said.

Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador, Konstantin Dolgov, urged all countries involved in the six-party talks to continue diplomatic efforts "to prevent any further escalation."

For now, the international community should do nothing rash and remain united, because North Korea "always seeks to split alliances," said Michael Levi, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Levi, an arms-control expert, said the greatest leverage the United States has is its ability to offer North Korea security guarantees, possibly leading it to curb or halt its nuclear ambitions.

"If the U.S. were to immediately offer incentives to North Korea, it would send the wrong message," he said. "But in the long term, that's exactly what it's going to have to do."

Balbina Hwang, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and editor of the quarterly magazine U.S. Korea Tomorrow, said six-party talks are "the way to go" but sanctions should also be pursued to isolate Pyongyang.

"If people think a (U.N.) resolution or condemnation will get North Korea to stop its behavior, it won't," she said. "It's a minimum and not sufficient."

So what would work?

Hwang advocates a calibrated mix of diplomacy and pressure. She believes that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il launched the missiles partly to test the resolve of China and South Korea and gauge the reactions of the United States and Japan.

"Unfortunately, the reactions showed that the North can keep going," she said.

The missile tests revealed that China and South Korea are unwilling to use their limited influence, that the United States had no plans to launch a retaliatory attack, and that Japan — despite its tough talk — will take only limited steps, Hwang said. China, whose trade with North Korea hit a record $1.58 billion last year, has imposed no restrictions on Pyongyang. According to Levi, Beijing does not want to see a collapse in the North leading to a massive influx of refugees.

South Korea, whose trade with the North reached an all-time high of $1.05 billion last year, has delayed food and fertilizer shipments until the missile crisis is resolved. Yet Levi said it was unclear if there was political will in the South to get tougher.

"In theory," he said, "both South Korea and China have significant leverage because of their roles in keeping the North Korean economy afloat. But realistically, they are unlikely to use those levers."

Dealing with North Korea may prove tricky

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« Reply #1801 on: July 08, 2006, 03:11:02 PM »

Russia Clamps Down on U.S. Funded Radio Programs

Created: 08.07.2006 15:12 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 15:12 MSK, 7 hours 55 minutes ago


Russian authorities have dramatically curtailed the number of stations broadcasting Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America news programs, The Associated Press reported.

Russian officials say the reason was the stations’ failure to observe the terms of their broadcast licenses. Nevertheless, the move comes against the backdrop of growing criticism about the state of democracy and media freedoms under President Vladimir Putin.

With Russia set to host a summit of leaders from the world’s wealthiest democracies next week, some European and U.S. lawmakers have called for Putin’s government to be taken to task for closing down media outlets and squeezing opposition groups.

Radio station owners said the restrictions, which began to be enforced last summer, close down an essential source of information, particularly in far-flung regions where media outlets are fewer than in Moscow and St. Petersburg. “In Moscow, there’s still freedom in some sense. But in the regions, freedom has ended. There is none,” said Boris Mazin, programming manager for a broadcast holding company in Kazan, about 700 kilometers east of Moscow.

Between May 2005 and May 2006, the number of stations broadcasting programming by Radio Liberty fell from 30 to “no more than a handful,” according to Jeffrey Trimble, RFE/RL’s acting president. For Voice of America, the 42 affiliates that used its programs in August 2005 has dwindled to just five.

Russia Clamps Down on U.S. Funded Radio Programs

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