US held secret meetings with North Korea after Kim Jong Il’s death

North and South KoreaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Senior United States officials traveled secretly to North Korea for talks on at least two occasions following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, according to a leading Japanese newspaper. Quoting unnamed sources from Japan, South Korea and the United States, the Tokyo-based Asahi Shimbun newspaper said last week that the American officials traveled on US military airplanes from an Air Force base on the Pacific island of Guam to North Korean capital Pyongyang. According to the paper, the visits, which took place on April 7 and August 18-20, 2012, were kept secret from both the South Korea and Japanese governments. It appears, however, that Tokyo found out about the secret flights after it was approached by amateur air traffic hobbyists, who noticed the Pyongyang-bound flights out of Guam. After analyzing air traffic patterns, officials at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign affairs contacted the US Department of State inquiring about the mystery flights. Incredibly, however, Washington refused to discuss the flights with its Japanese ally, citing national security concerns. Eventually, says Asahi, the State Department acknowledged one of the visits, but responded to persistent Japanese pressure by warning Tokyo that further inquiries on the subject “would harm bilateral relations” between Japan and the US. The Japanese daily claims that the secret flights carried a host of senior US officials, including Joseph DeTrani, then chief of the North Koran desk at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Sydney Seiler, Korea policy chief at the White House National Security Council. They allegedly met with some of North Korea’s most powerful and influential political apparatchiks, including Jang Song Thaek, who is married to the late Kim Jong Il’s younger sister. Jaek, who is Vice Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea, is widely seen as the political mentor of the current Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. Japanese and American government spokespeople refused to comment on the Asahi allegations.

5 Responses to US held secret meetings with North Korea after Kim Jong Il’s death

  1. Matt c. says:

    Not surprising. The US is probably supporting N. Korea in order to justify its new military spending and to put pressure on Japan. Why else would the US be holding secret, in person talks in N. Korea? They obviously didn’t want Japan to find out, and when they did, they told them to but out. What the heck is going on?

  2. Pied Cow says:

    It seems to me that it’s entirely reasonable for US officials to meet with their North Korean counterparts upon the demise of a national leader, as it would be an opportunity to get first-hand information about policy shifts that might be expected with the change.

    I’d say the likelier explanation for the secrecy had more to do with domestic concerns than with Japan. Villified as North Korea is in the US media, a junket to Pyongyang by upper-tier officials could easily become a political embarrassment for the administration.

    Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the source of the story emphasizing Japanese concern is actually American disinformation seeking to prevent embarrassment on the home front now that news of the trip is apparently about to see the light of day.

  3. Kidd says:

    ages ago while living on a german air force base, a portion near the runway was closed because a plane load of russian officials had landed on their way for meetings. there are lines of communication between so called enemies that are always open. there has to be some form of sanity.

  4. Oshacks says:

    Chairman of Google went to North Korea and State Department said “the timing of the visits was regrettable”.Oshacks!!.Life is relative,depends what you say *winks*

  5. Pete says:

    I think it unlikely that the Japanese government itself would rely on a news agency to pass on reports from “amateur air traffic hobbyists”.

    Japanese air traffic control, both civilian and military, may well have picked up unusual US aircraft flights to and from North Korea. Japanese surveillance satellites are also focussed on air activity involving North Korea.

    South Korean air traffic radar would have also picked up the odd flights.

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