Alexander Downer’s advice to Bush on N.Korea: “starve them”

22 12 2010

By Philip Dorling (The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Dec. 2010)

THE Howard government urged the United States to force the collapse of the North Korean regime by denying it aid, despite advice that the country had a growing nuclear arsenal and could unleash an artillery barrage on South Korea’s capital at a moment’s notice.

”Let the whole place go to shit, that’s the best thing that could happen,” the foreign affairs minister, Alexander Downer, told the commander of US and United Nations forces in South Korea at a meeting in Canberra in 2005.

A leaked US embassy cable reports that Mr Downer told General Leon LaPorte that the outside world should sharply increase pressure on North Korea, suggesting that ”aid that could prop up [North Korea’s] failing infrastructure should be withheld to bring an end to the regime’s tyranny”.
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The cable, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available exclusively to the Herald, says Mr Downer’s ”off-the-top of his head” remarks also derided New Zealand’s approach to the Korean problem.

”If US officials wanted to hear the ‘bleeding hearts’ view of ‘peace and love’ with respect to North Korea, Downer joked, they only had to visit his colleagues in New Zealand. Mr Downer said he personally agreed with George Bush that tyranny had to be ended,” the cable says.

Mr Downer met General LaPorte on February 16, 2005, against the backdrop of moves to reduce US military forces in South Korea and the protracted diplomatic stalemate over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions…

…The cable goes on to record Mr Downer’s view that the outside world should sharply increase pressure on North Korea, indeed suggesting that ”aid that could prop up [North Korea’s] failing infrastructure should be withheld in order to bring an end to the regime’s tyranny”.

Reflecting on his own visit to Pyongyang in 2000, Mr Downer described the North Korean capital as ”pathetic”, with its ”darkened streets, cracked pavements and unmowed grass.”

Mr Downer added that ”speaking off the top of his head … aid should not be given that would prop up the [North Korean] infrastructure”. The US embassy had no comment on Mr Downer’s views.

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Mongolia passed North Korea’s message to U.S.

7 12 2010

(Mongolia-Web, 03 December 2010) North Korea attempted to reach out to the United States through Mongolia in 2009, suggesting that the Mongolians host disarmament talks between Washington and Pyongyang, American diplomats reported in a document obtained by the website WikiLeaks.

A Mongolian diplomat passed that information to the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar after an August 2009 meeting with Mr. Kim Yong Il, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, a leaked embassy cable recounts. “There are no eternal enemies in this world,” the Mongolian official quoted Mr. Kim as saying.

“VFM Kim said the DPRK is spending too much on weapons rather than on its children, but that the current reality dictates that they cannot get away from weapons for now,” the cable states, using shorthand for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Kim said the DPRK is not a threat and was only interested in self-protection.”

The Mongolian diplomat who recounted the meeting described it as “notable” since the North Koreans “did not read from a prepared script, they were not aggressive and made no criticism of the United States, and they criticized China and Russia ‘three or four times’ for supporting recent U.N. resolutions aimed at the DPRK,” the cable states.

The North Koreans repeated their insistence that they would not return to the six-party regional talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, according to the document. As they had in the past, they indicated that they wanted to discuss disarmament and the normalization of relations with Washington in one-on-one talks, which an embassy official suggested could be held in Mongolia, according to the Mongolian diplomat.

The cable quotes Mr. Kim as saying that former President Clinton’s visit to North Korea “has greatly improved the prospects for such talks”. Mr. Clinton had gone to Pyongyang a week earlier to retrieve two American journalists held on charges of entering the country illegally.





China to dump North Korea, really?

1 12 2010

By Sunny Lee (Asia Times On-line, 1 Dec. 2010) BEIJING – The WikiLeaks revelations on North Korea did not surprise analysts, who said they are after all not particularly substantial; and when it comes to North Korea, even ranking government officials can be wrong.

Leaked US diplomatic cables show China’s frustration with communist ally North Korea and present a picture that Beijing is likely to abandon its long-time ideological brother country by accepting a future unified Korea under South Korean control. That interpretation, analysts say, belies reality

“For North Korea watchers, it was not much of a news,” said Leonid Petrov, a Russian expert on Korean affairs, who teaches at the University of Sydney. Going against the predominant sentiment in the WikiLeaks documents, in which China is seen as ready to abandon its long-time communist ally, observers largely believe bilateral ties are intact, even after North Korea’s attack on the South last week, which drew international criticism on China as it long-time enabler, and calls for Beijing to do more to contain the North’s aggression.

What WikiLeaks did, according to analysts, was offer confirmation of the shallowness of the rest of the world’s understanding of North Korea, even at the very high level of a government bureaucracy, and how easy it is to be misled by one source or another.

“WikiLeaks helps us to know that, after all, intelligence is sometimes not reliable and sometimes even can be funny,” said Petrov. “It also reveals what could happen when you don’t have direct access to North Korea. People who really know North Korea don’t send cables to their government from neighboring countries [of North Korea.]”

Countries that really understand North Korea have diplomats in Pyongyang, like some European nations, Russia and China. “They all have embassies in Pyongyang and they have direct access to North Korean government officials and people,” Petrov said

Analysts believe that real, critical information is still outside the public realm. “I am pretty sure the Russian Embassy or the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang know and understand North Korea much better. They know personalities there. They know who is in what condition. Who’s controlling what. Yet they simply don’t share this [with diplomats of other countries]. So, what was leaked was just the tip of an iceberg,” said Petrov, the Russian expert.

WikiLeaks said China was preparing a contingency plan in the case of the collapse of North Korea and a flood of North Korean refugees to Chinese territory and outbreaks of unrest along its border that could happen if the with North Korean regime failed. Chinese officials in the leaks said China “could deal with up to 300,000 refugees but might have to seal the border to maintain order”. This is one of the most sensitive parts of WikiLeaks and is something that America has repeatedly nudged China to discuss, though China has so far refused…

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