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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Obama conducted secret talks with North Korea without telling Japan

Japan's Asahi Shimbun reports that three times during 2011-12, the Obama administration sent emissaries for talks with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, and tried to keep it secret from Japan, ostensibly a US ally (Hat Tip: MFS - The Other News).
U.S. military planes flew from an air base in Guam to Pyongyang and back on April 7, 2012, and again on a longer visit lasting from Aug. 18-20, the sources said.
It is believed that those aboard included Sydney Seiler, director for Korea at the U.S. National Security Council, and Joseph DeTrani, who headed the North Korea desk at the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. DeTrani left the post in May.
They met with North Korean officials and discussed policies following the death of leader Kim Jong Il in December 2011.
The North Korean delegation included Jang Song Thaek, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission and husband of Kim Jong Il's sister. Jang is widely considered to serve as a mentor for Kim Jong Un, who succeeded his father as his nation's leader.
The Japanese government only learned about the flights after receiving reports from hobbyists monitoring activity at military bases and also analyzing air traffic flight plans.
When the Japanese side submitted an official inquiry, U.S. officials expressed frustration that the request had been made, citing the subject's confidential nature. The State Department warned Japan against inquiring further, saying Washington-Tokyo ties could be damaged.
The third visit that The Asahi Shimbun has confirmed is one that took place in November 2011. Sources said at least one military aircraft from the Guam air base loaded heavy equipment, including bulldozers, at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo and flew to Pyongyang.
It is believed that the delegation included officials from the U.S. Pacific Command. They met with North Korean officials and discussed efforts to recover the remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, the sources said.
When Japan inquired about this visit, U.S. officials unofficially confirmed that it had taken place, the sources said.
How effective were those talks? Well, one visit took place on April 7, 2012, just five days before North Korea launched a failed Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 missile. 

On August 31, 2012, just eleven days after the third visit, the IAEA reported that North Korea had made 'significant progress' in its nuclear program. 

And although we were not given the exact date of the November 2011 visit, on November 30, al-Guardian reported that North Korea announced that it was 'making progress' in building a light water reactor.

Do you think that the North Koreans were trying to tell Obama something?

As to leaving Japan out of the picture, we are all too familiar with that type of behavior here in Israel, and can only wonder whether the US negotiators met the Iranians on the same festive occasion.

What could go wrong?

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