President Trump claimed last Saturday that North Korea wanted to talk, and it looks like he was right.
As announced Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has expressed a willingness to suspend missile tests and meet with his South Korean counterpart if his country can begin talks with the US.
The good news was announced after a Monday meeting between Kim and 10 South Korean envoys. It was the first time Kim had spoken directly with South Korean officials since his father’s death in 2011, and the first high-level visit by South Korean officials to the North in more than a decade.
The purpose of the meeting was to lower tensions on the peninsula and to arrange a future meeting between North Korea and the US. Before he left, delegation leader Chung Eui-yong said he would relay South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s hopes for “North Korean nuclear disarmament and a permanent peace on the peninsula,” reports Haaretz.
After the meeting, Chung announced the two countries would hold a summit in April – the third summit to ever take place between the two countries – and that Kim would open a “hotline” of communication with Moon in order to ease military tensions.
North Korea expressed the desire to hold “candid dialogue” with the US, said Chung. While such talks are underway, Pyongyang “won’t resume strategic provocations like additional nuclear test or test-launches of ballistic missiles.” Kim also promised that North Korea would not attack South Korea with nukes or conventional weapons.
Chung’s delegation will visit the US in the coming days to brief White House officials about the meeting with Kim.
“Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction,” tweeted Trump on Tuesday.
The White House has made it clear that it does not want to engage in empty talks with North Korea and that all options – including military measures – are still on the table.
North Korea’s coverage of the event showed a gracious and smiling Kim posing for pictures with the South Korean delegates. State-run news agency KCNA described the meeting as a “co-patriotic and sincere atmosphere.”
During the dinner portion of the meeting, which is said to have lasted more than four hours, Kim expressed the desire to “vigorously advance the north-south relations and write a new history of national reunification,” reports Haaretz.
Kim also said he “understands” that joint-military drills between the US and South Korea will take place next month.
Kim’s behavior during the meeting is out of line with the North’s insistence on keeping its nukes and threats to retaliate if joint-military operations between the US and South Korea take place in April.
Some suspect Kim’s 180 is a response to crippling economic sanctions or a way to stall for time while his country develops more powerful missiles. If his words are sincere, however, this could be a major victory for President Trump.
Editor’s note: This is more progress with North Korea than perhaps any other President has ever made. While foreign policy issues do not normally make good election issues, this one should be significant to most intelligent people. But we will see where it goes…