The United States is expected to reassign its special envoy on North Korea issues and may not replace him, the Korea Times reported on Friday.
Glyn Davies, the current U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, is seen as a top candidate for the post of U.S. ambassador to Thailand, unidentified sources told the newspaper. Davies, who has served as special envoy since early 2012, is anticipated to be reassigned in the coming months.
However, it is not clear that the Obama administration will retain the diplomatic post of special envoy for North Korea following years of zero progress on the denuclearization front, according to the Times.
Davies brokered a nuclear and missile-testing moratorium with Pyongyang in early 2012 but the deal fell apart when the North several weeks later launched a space rocket — technology with direct implications on the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Other than that stillborn accord, no serious nuclear discussions have taken place since late 2008.
Meanwhile, official Syrian media are reporting that Damascus and Pyongyang agreed in late May to deepen their collaboration on science, technology and industrial manufacturing, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
The Syria-North Korea relationship is closely watched by the United States and other countries due to proliferation concerns. Damascus is believed by defense experts to have been able to rebuild missile manufacturing capabilities hurt by the Syrian Civil War with help from North Korea. Diplomatic sources in 2012 said the North was caught attempting to smuggle ballistic missile components to Syria. And Pyongyang is widely assumed to have provided Damascus with technical support to build an undeclared military reactor that was destroyed in a 2007 Israeli air strike.
What We're Following See More »
The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."
"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.
"Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that would limit deportations" under President-elect Donald Trump. Leading the effort are Judiciary Committee members Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is also expected to sign on.
Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. James 'Mad Dog' Mattis as his secretary of defense, according to The Washington Post. Mattis retired from active duty just four years ago, so Congress will have "to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years." The official announcement is likely to come next week.