North Korea summit could still happen on 12 June

25 May, 2018, 19:39 | Author: Virgil Todd
  • South Korea's President Moon Jae-in

The statement by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, a longtime nuclear negotiator and senior diplomat, which said the North is "willing to give the USA time and opportunities" to reconsider talks that had been set for June 12 in Singapore, could be driven by a need to use the summit to ease crushing global sanctions, or by a determination that a summit with the mercurial Trump is the best opportunity the North will ever have to elevate itself, and its nuclear program, to equality with its archrival.

But there was lingering concern among US officials that Kim was not serious about relinquishing the nuclear weapons his country has developed for decades - an issue that will continue to complicate any future talks.

The 12 June summit in Singapore would have been the first time a sitting USA president had met a North Korean leader.

General Vincent Brooks, the commander of US Forces in South Korea, said: "The opportunity is not lost". "Only time (and talent) will tell!"

Trump said North Korea's recent "tremendous anger and open hostility" toward the U.S. made the summit inappropriate.

The White House has repeatedly offered mixed messages.

"He said Kim Jong Un had changed after his second meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping".

A senior White House official said Pyongyang had demonstrated a "profound lack of good faith" in the run-up to the summit - including standing up the White House's deputy chief of staff, who had travelled to Singapore for preparatory talks.

"We would like to make known to the U.S. side once again that we have the intent to sit with the USA side to solve problem (s) regardless of ways at any time", Kim said Friday, according to the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency. Some analysts think that the explosion might have rendered the entire site unusable, but Pabian doubts that's the case. Worldwide journalists were present, but the US government can't verify the site's destruction. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid overshadowing Trump's comments Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a staunch ally of Kim Jong Un, said the North Korean leader had in fact done "everything that he had promised in advance, even blowing up the tunnels and shafts" of the site.

"We again state to the U.S. our willingness to sit face-to-face at any time in any form to resolve the problem", he said in a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency.

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Then, barely hours after the dust had settled at the Punggye-ri nuclear facility, Trump announced the summit was dead in a personal letter to Kim.

"What is important is that the summit meeting has to be something that becomes an opportunity to make progress on issues such as nuclear, missiles and, most importantly, abduction", he said.

South Korea's state weather agency said rain of up to 30 millimeters was expected Friday, leading to predictions that the dismantling of the test site would take place Thursday. But North Korea likely has a laundry list of prerequisites, including the drawing down of USA troop levels on the Korean Peninsula, a cessation of joint military exercises and delivery of foreign aid.

Decades of diplomatic stalemate had given way to what appeared to be genuine progress in one of geopolitics' stickiest issues, thanks, supporters said, to Trump's unorthodox approach and willingness to engage an global pariah. Now, Trump has done that to North Korea. He unveiled the date and the time with characteristic showmanship.

Relations between North and South Korea, still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended without a formal peace treaty, have dominated Moon's first year in office.

"In an interview yesterday, author Stephen King said Vice President Pence is, quote, "creepy" and looks like, quote, 'the mean doctor on a soap opera.' Hey, Stephen King, let me do the jokes, man".

Trump's aides had warned that merely agreeing to the summit had provided Kim with long-sought global legitimacy and, if Trump ultimately backed out, risked fostering the perception that the president was insufficiently committed to diplomatic solutions to the nuclear question.

Kim Dong-ho, a 38-year-old employee at a blockchain company, said it wasn't right to isolate North Korea again when it was making efforts to join the global community.

Typically, these talks end with North Korea walking away or taking provocative actions that force the USA to walk away.

A White House team was set to fly to Singapore this weekend to continue logistical planning for the meeting. It often doesn't get mentioned but Donald Trump actually blames China for some of this impasse. "Our position is to stay committed to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula". Trump has seemed to welcome chatter of a Nobel Peace Prize, but that had yielded in recent weeks to the sobering prospect of ensuring a successful outcome with the Kim.

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