N Korea nuclear talks with US to resume in ‘two or three weeks’, says Donald Trump after meeting Kim Jong-un at border with the South

02-Jul-2019 Intellasia | | 9:08 AM Print This Post

US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that teams from the US and North Korea would start meetings “over the next two or three weeks” for talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, but said he was in no rush for a deal.

Negotiators will “start a process and we’ll see what happens”, Trump said after a historic meeting with the North’s leader Kim Jong-un in the demilitarised zone that divides the two Koreas.

Trump said after the meeting that sanctions would remain on North Korea, but he appeared to leave open the possibility of scaling them back as part of renewed talks, saying “at some point during the negotiation, things can happen”.

“We’re not looking for speed, we’re looking to get it right,” Trump told reporters. “Speed is not the object … We want to see if we can do a really comprehensive, good deal. [But] a lot has already come up.”

(South China Morning Post)

(South China Morning Post)

Trump described his meeting with Kim as “legendary”.

When they met, they shook hands over the demarcation line. Trump then stepped over it into North Korea after Kim invited him in.

The unprecedented meeting in the heavily fortified border village of Panmunjom on Sunday was a whirlwind yet carefully choreographed affair designed to pave the way for a third round of talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

The two shook hands and posed before Kim extended the surprise invitation for Trump to cross into the northern side of the demarcation line.

The leaders then walked over to the South, shook hands again, posed for pictures and spoke to the international media.

“Good to see you again,” Kim told Trump in English, adding that he “never expected” to meet the US president “at this place”.

“I was surprised to hear about Trump’s [invitation] yesterday … I think today’s meeting would lay the groundwork for overcoming the barriers we have and bring many positive changes,” Kim told Trump in Freedom House on the South side.

“Stepping across that line was a great honour,” Trump told Kim after walking across the border. “It’s a great day for the world.”

The US president appeared to take the significance of the event in his stride, even injecting some humour.

“It’s a very historic moment … If he didn’t show up the press would make me look really bad,” Trump said.

Kim said it would be a great honour if Trump visited his capital of Pyongyang. The two agreed to visit each other’s country “at the right time”, Trump said.It was the third time Trump and Kim have met face-to-face, after high-stakes nuclear talks in Singapore in June last year and Vietnam in February.

After the collapse of the highly-anticipated Hanoi summit, talks between Washington and Pyongyang stalled as both sides insisted on their own definitions of denuclearisation.

“I would like to move away from the past and maintain good relations in the future,” Kim told Trump on Sunday.

Trump said he appreciated Kim’s presence, noting that “many positive” changes have happened.

“The relationship we have developed has been so much,” Trump said. “This could be very a historic moment. I really enjoy being with you.”Before meeting Kim, Trump and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in visited a guard post that looks into the North and spoke to US and South Korean servicemen.

At a joint press conference in Seoul earlier in the day, Moon said the meeting at the border was crucial for the future of the denuclearisation talks.

“Whether the third round of the US-North Korea summit [is] to be held or not, depends on the meeting,” he said.Although the surprise meeting may pave the way for a third summit between Trump and Kim, some have questioned whether it was practical.

“The fundamental issue a year after [the Singapore summit] is North Korea not denuclearising,” said Leif-Eric Easley, an associate professor of International Security and Political Economics at Ewha University in Seoul.

“Progress on inter-Korean relations and denuclearisation requires that the Kim regime agrees to working-level talks to negotiate next steps,” Easley said.

“Most eyes will be on the summit meetings, but a key indicator of progress is whether North Korean counterparts meet with US Special Representative Stephen Biegun.

“Biegun has signalled flexibility on the timing and sequencing of steps, but North Korean working-level officials need to be empowered to negotiate, and the agreed upon endpoint has to be complete – not partial or merely cosmetic – denuclearisation,” he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters shortly before departing South Korea that a fresh round of talks will likely happen “sometime in July” and the North’s negotiators would be foreign ministry diplomats.

“Today’s meeting was significant in salvaging faltering working-level talks,” said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. “But the North wouldn’t easily change its stance, even though Trump has effectively responded to the so-called top-down approach cherished by Kim.”

Others warned that the meeting may be used as propaganda by Pyongyang.

“Trump may think he’s making history by possibly crossing the DMZ into the North with Kim. But really, he’s just walking into a Pyongyang propaganda trap,” said Sean King, senior vice-president at political strategy firm Park Strategies.

“North Korea tells them the armistice signed at Panmunjom, in 1953, was Kim Il-sung’s great victory where defeated America begged for peace … Trump meeting Kim there plays right into the false North Korean narrative,” King said.

“The US president shouldn’t be an on-screen extra in reinforcing the lies these poor people have been told all their lives.”

Beijing’s influence on the Korean peninsula has also not changed, according to China experts, who say the role it has played has been one of an “important behind-the-scenes messenger”.

Wang Sheng, a Korean affairs analyst from Jilin University in China, said: “China played a key role in brokering this interaction as Xi [Jinping] told both Trump and Moon that Kim has firm determination on denuclearisation, and this is something Beijing will keep doing in the future.”

“Beijing will push and help North Korea to develop its economy … Beijing’s influence is bound to grow, but not to shrink,” Wang added.

President Xi on Friday called on the leaders of the US and North Korea to have a third summit, following his own state visit to Pyongyang last week.


Category: Korea

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