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North Korea is willing to discuss its nuclear program in talks with the United States

North Korea’s Kim wants to talk to Trump about mutual nuclear issues, says Chinese media, WP, By Anna Fifield and Simon Denyer May 8   Email the author

TOKYO — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to talk to President Trump about “phased and synchronous measures” to deal with the standoff over the North’s nuclear program, Chinese state media reported Tuesday after Kim made his second visit to China in as many months.

This wording, coupled with Kim’s desire to “eventually achieve denuclearization and lasting peace on the peninsula,” will ring alarm bells in Washington as it reinforces suspicions that the North Korean leader will ask Trump to take simultaneous steps to reduce tensions.

The U.S. president said Tuesday in Washington that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was en route to North Korea to finalize a date and location for a meeting between Trump and Kim. It would be the first such parley between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader.

“This wording about a ‘phased approach’ shows that this is going to be a process,” said Patrick McEachern, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center who previously worked on North Korea at the State Department.

“There are no home runs here. Success in diplomacy with North Korea is going to be a series of singles, with some strikeouts and errors along the way,” he said.

There is considerable skepticism among analysts that Kim, having tried so hard to get a credible nuclear weapons program, is about to give it all up — certainly not without extracting major concessions from the United States. That could include reducing the U.S. military footprint in South Korea.

Kim made the remarks during a two-day visit to the Chinese port city of Dalian, not far from the North Korean border, where he met with President Xi Jinping, Xinhua reported Tuesday night. His younger sister and close aide, Kim Yo Jong, also was seen at the meetings………

South Korea has repeatedly said that the North is willing to discuss its nuclear program in talks with the United States, although “denuclearization” has not been defined. The language in the April 27 agreement has many American analysts worried that Kim will insist on U.S. military drawdowns from South Korea as part of any deal.

Although there is considerable skepticism in the United States and Japan about whether North Korea is genuine in its detente efforts, analysts point out that Kim appears to want to move on from nuclear to economic development.

“I do think North Korea would have a very strong interest to pivot to economic development,” Zhao said. “In this regard, it would have a strong motivation to build much stronger economic ties with China, South Korea and Russia.”

The South Korean government is exploring ways to increase economic cooperation with North Korea without breaching international sanctions or earning the ire of Trump. Reports from the Chinese-North Korean border suggest that Chinese authorities have already lost much of their enthusiasm for enforcing existing sanctions.

But Xie of Gavekal Dragonomics said that, deep down, Kim knows Washington and Seoul are unlikely to lift sanctions anytime soon and that he has to rely on China for economic relief. ….


May 9, 2018 - Posted by | North Korea, politics international

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