North Korea negotiations continue with high profile Pyongyang visit

08-Oct-2018 Intellasia | WSJ | 6:27 AM Print This Post

Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong Un to discuss formal end to Korean War as North Korean-U.S. denuclearization talks stall
With denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea stalled, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to visit Pyongyang on Tuesday in a bid to revive diplomacy after a summer of challenges.

At a planned three-day summit, Mr. Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are expected to hold talks on a declaration to formally end the Korean War, more than six decades after fighting was halted by an armistice.

North Korea sees a permanent peace deal as an important indication that Washington is willing to end what it calls a hostile policy toward Pyongyang—and a step toward removal of U.S. forces from South Korea.

In exchange, U.S. and South Korean experts believe that the South Korean delegation will push the North to produce a detailed inventory of its nuclear and missile programs, something it has never before been willing to do.

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal

Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang are at an impasse, three months after President Trump met Mr. Kim in Singapore and the two men signed an agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has balked at Washington’s push for a rapid dismantling of its atomic-weapons programs, while North Korea has said the U.S. is dragging its feet on the end-of-war declaration.

“The South Korean position is, ‘Why don’t you simultaneously exchange?’” said Moon Chung-in, a senior adviser to South Korea’s president.

If all goes well, the meeting of the Korean leaders could help pave the way for a second meeting between Messrs. Trump and Kim, which the White House has hinted at in recent days.

Since the June U.S.-North Korea summit, satellite imagery has shown North continuing to expand its nuclear and missile facilities, even as it dismantled other sites.

The U.S. has continued to impose economic sanctions and sparked an angry retort from Pyongyang on Friday after bringing charges against a North Korean citizen that Washington said masterminded cyberattacks against the U.S. and others.

Mr. Trump canceled a planned trip to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his special envoy on North Korea, Steve Biegun, citing slow progress on denuclearization.

As progress has flagged between the U.S. and North Korea, the two Koreas have pushed ahead with a detente. On Friday, in an unprecedented step, the two sides opened a liaison office north of the demilitarized zone. The South Korean president will also bring a large business delegation with him this week that includes Lee Jae-yong, the third-generation heir of the Samsung conglomerate, South Korea’s largest business empire.

U.S. officials have stressed that improved inter-Korean relations can’t happen in isolation from efforts to resolve Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

This week’s inter-Korean summit will be the third this year between the leaders of the two sides of the divided peninsula. The pair first met in April amid a burst of bonhomie that included North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics in the South.

With talks between the U.S. and North Korea threatening to unravel, the pressure is on Mr. Moon to nudge the North Koreans and the Americans toward mutual concessions that result in concrete steps to denuclearization and a peace process.

Mr. Moon also comes into the summit in a much weaker political position than he was in April. After that first summit, his domestic approval rating was above 80%; this month, it fell below 50% for the first time.

Moon Chung-in, the South Korean presidential adviser, said Mr. Kim, whom he met this year, sees a peace treaty with the U.S. as a step toward giving up his nuclear weapons.

In exchange for an end-of-war declaration, the South Korean president is expected to push Mr. Kim for a specific accounting of the North’s nuclear-arms and ballistic-missile programs—an important step toward dismantling them.

Mr. Moon, the adviser, said he hopes North Korea will turn over roughly 10 nuclear bombs. If Mr. Kim did that, he said, “we can figure out verification later.”

Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul, said he doubts North Korea will provide a list now, but argued that Mr. Trump could be willing to settle for less to jump-start progress.

David Maxwell, a retired U.S. Special Forces colonel and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said a North Korean inventory of its stockpiles and facilities wouldn’t be meaningful without the chance to conduct on-the-ground verification.



Category: Korea

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