Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - North Korea ready to discuss denuclearization with US: report



North Korea ready to discuss denuclearization with US: report

Kim Jong Un in North Korea in February 2017. NYT via Korean Central News Agency
Kim Jong Un in North Korea in February 2017. NYT via Korean Central News Agency

North Korea ready to discuss denuclearization with US: report

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2018 (AFP) - North Korean officials have told their US counterparts that Kim Jong Un is ready to discuss denuclearization, an assurance that could pave the way for a planned meeting with President Donald Trump, reports said.

It is the first time Pyongyang has made the offer of a summit directly to Washington, after its invitation was previously conveyed through a South Korean envoy.

"The US has confirmed that Kim Jong Un is willing to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," a Trump administration official told The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post on Sunday.

Washington stunned observers when it announced last month it had agreed to a historic first meeting between Trump and Kim, to be held by the end of May.

The North's offer to meet was delivered to the White House by South Korea's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, who had met Kim during a visit to Pyongyang days earlier.

But Pyongyang has failed to publicly confirm the offer since, beyond a commentary from its state-run KCNA news agency noting the "dramatic atmosphere for reconciliation" with the South and "a sign of change" with the US.

This silence had made US officials nervous that Seoul had overstated the North's willingness to negotiate over its own nuclear arsenal, the Wall Street Journal reported.

US gambit
Many remain skeptical about whether the planned summit can succeed.

It is scheduled to take place without the months of groundwork that usually precedes such meetings.

CNN reported Saturday that secret, direct talks paving the way for the summit were under way between North Korean and US intelligence officials, citing anonymous White House sources.

But no specifics have yet emerged concerning the date or venue of the proposed summit, with a third country such as Mongolia or Sweden under consideration to host the talks, according to multiple reports.

Beyond that, a detailed agenda for the talks will need to be set.

Washington's long-held stance is that it will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. That means it wants to see "complete, verifiable, and irreversible" denuclearisation -- a very high bar.

The North has previously demanded the withdrawal of US troops based in the South and the end of the security alliance between Seoul and Washington -- an extraordinary concession that it is hard to imagine any previous US president acceding to.

Diplomatic flurry
South Korea on Monday welcomed the reported offer by the North to discuss denuclearization.

"We are not a directly concerned party since it is something that is taking place between the US and North Korea, but if the reports are true, we view it positively and welcome it," said Nam Sang-kyu, a spokesman at the South's presidential office.

The South will host its own summit later this month between Kim and the South's president Moon Jae-in.

Last week, the two Koreas held a working-level meeting aimed at ironing out protocol headaches and other logistics ahead of the rare inter-Korean summit, due to take place on April 27.

A different group of officials from the two sides met Saturday to discuss setting up a direct hotline between the offices of the leaders of North and South Korea.

Details of the talks were not released but officials from both sides agreed to further meetings on the topic later this week, a spokesman for the South's unification ministry said Monday.

The rapprochement on the peninsula was triggered by the South's Winter Olympics, to which the North sent athletes, cheerleaders and Kim's sister as an envoy.

Kim has since pencilled in the summit meetings with the South and the US, and made his international debut with a visit to Beijing -- his first overseas trip since taking power in 2011.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “