US, North Korea need to talk: ex­perts

Con­ver­sa­tion should fo­cus on ‘sus­pen­sion-for-sus­pen­sion’ con­sen­sus

Global Times - - Front Page - By Zhang Hui

A con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the US and North Korea would have sig­nif­i­cant mean­ing in de­nu­cle­ariz­ing the Korean Penin­sula, Chi­nese ob­servers said Tues­day af­ter Wash­ing­ton on Mon­day ex­pressed will­ing­ness to talk to North Korea.

The US and South Korea have agreed on terms for fur­ther en­gage­ment and even con­ver­sa­tion with North Korea, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported Mon­day, cit­ing US Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence.

The still-nascent plan in­volved “max­i­mum pres­sure and en­gage­ment at the same time,” Pence was quoted as say­ing. “The point is, no pres­sure comes off un­til they are ac­tu­ally do­ing some­thing that the al­liance be­lieves rep­re­sents a mean­ing­ful step to­ward de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.”

“So the max­i­mum pres­sure cam­paign is go­ing to con­tinue and in­ten­sify. But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”

The US’ lat­est plan came amid a warm­ing trend on the penin­sula dur­ing the PyeongChang Win­ter Olympic Games and would be wel­comed by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, Lü Chao, a re­search fel­low at the Liaon­ing Academy of So­cial Sciences said.

Kim Jong-un ex­pressed grat­i­tude to South Korea for its sin­cere ef­forts when he met a North Korean del­e­ga­tion to the Olympic open­ing cer­e­mony, North Korea’s The Rodong Sin­mun re­ported Tues­day.

Kim also said that it was im­por­tant to con­tinue build­ing on the good re­sults by im­prov­ing the warm cli­mate of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and di­a­logue cre­ated by the strong de­sire and com­mon will of the north and the south with the Olympics as the mo­men­tum.

“The cur­rent US at­ti­tude has soft­ened com­pared with its pre­vi­ous po­si­tion that em­pha­sized build­ing ‘max­i­mum pres­sure’ against North Korea,” Lü said. “It re­al­ized that get­ting tough could bring neg­a­tive ef­fects to the penin­sula and the US could not ben­e­fit from a chaotic penin­sula.”

The US po­si­tion had not rad­i­cally changed, Jin Qiangyi, di­rec­tor of the Asia Re­search Cen­ter at China’s Yan­bian Uni­ver­sity in Jilin Prov­ince said.

The US has con­tin­u­ously as­serted that North Korea must aban­don its nu­clear weapon pro­gram in ex­change for di­rect en­gage­ment with the US, ac­cord­ing to Jin.

Even though the im­prove­ment could last, it also de­pends on global so­ci­ety’s at­ti­tude: If the US de­cided to restart drills, that would frus­trate North-South Korean com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Zheng Jiy­ong, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Korean Stud­ies at Fu­dan Uni­ver­sity said.

Lü said that a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the US and North Korea, if it hap­pens, should first fo­cus on reach­ing a con­sen­sus on “sus­pen­sion-for-sus­pen­sion,” mean­ing the sus­pen­sion of nu­clear and mis­sile ac­tiv­i­ties by North Korea and the sus­pen­sion of mas­sive mil­i­tary ex­er­cises by the US and South Korea.

“The im­prov­ing penin­sula sit­u­a­tion is also wel­comed by China, as it re­duces the risk of war,” Zheng told the Global Times on Tues­day.

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