South Korea to play peace­maker

Seoul to take on me­di­a­tor role as it pushes for suc­cess­ful Trump-Kim talks

The Star Malaysia - - World -

As talks be­tween Py­ongyang and Washington hit a snag, Seoul is step­ping in as me­di­a­tor to en­sure that the his­toric sum­mit takes place as planned.

SEOUL: South Korea said it’s push­ing to re­set high-level talks with North Korea and will com­mu­ni­cate closely with Washington and Py­ongyang to in­crease the chances of a suc­cess­ful sum­mit be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on re­solv­ing the stand­off over the North’s nu­clear weapons.

The an­nounce­ment by Seoul’s pres­i­den­tial Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil came a day af­ter North Korea threat­ened to scrap next month’s his­toric meet­ing be­tween Trump and Kim, say­ing it has no in­ter­est in a “one-sided” af­fair meant to pres­sure the North to aban­don its nukes.

The North also broke off a high-level meet­ing with South Korea to protest the US-South Korean mil­i­tary ex­er­cises the North has long claimed are an in­va­sion re­hearsal.

The North’s sur­prise an­nounce­ment seemed to cool what had been an un­usual flurry of outreach from a coun­try that last year con­ducted a provoca­tive series of weapons tests that had many fear­ing the re­gion was on the edge of war.

An­a­lysts said it’s un­likely that North Korea in­tends to scut­tle all diplo­macy. More likely, they said, is that it wants to gain lever­age ahead of the talks be­tween Kim and Trump, sched­uled for June 12 in Sin­ga­pore.

South Korea said it would seek to me­di­ate be­tween the United States and North Korea af­ter Py­ongyang threat­ened to pull out of an un­prece­dented sum­mit be­tween its leader Kim Jong-un and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on June 12 in Sin­ga­pore.

Ja­pan’s Asahi news­pa­per yes­ter­day re­ported the United States has de­manded North Korea ship some nu­clear war­heads, an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile (ICBM) and other nu­clear ma­te­rial over­seas within six months.

The news­pa­per, cit­ing sev­eral sources fa­mil­iar with North Korean is­sues, said US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo ap­peared to have told the North Korean leader when they met this month that Py­ongyang might be re­moved from a list of state spon­sors of ter­ror­ism if it ships out those nu­clear items.

Asahi also re­ported that if Py­ongyang agrees to com­plete, ver­i­fi­able and ir­re­versible de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion at the planned Sin­ga­pore sum­mit, Washington was con­sid­er­ing giv­ing guar­an­tees for Kim’s regime.

Trump has said it is un­clear whether the sum­mit will go ahead but he would con­tinue to in­sist on de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of the Korean Penin­sula.

South Korea’s pres­i­den­tial Blue House said it would seek to bridge the gap be­tween Washington and Py­ongyang.

“See­ing the an­nounced state­ments and re­sponses from North Korea and the United States, we see the two par­ties as hav­ing a sin­cere and se­ri­ous at­ti­tude (to stand in each other’s shoes),” an of­fi­cial said.

Mean­while, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment’s top diplo­mat, Wang Yi, yes­ter­day said the mea­sures North Korea has taken to ease ten­sion on the Korean penin­sula should be ac­knowl­edged, and all other par­ties, es­pe­cially the United States, should cher­ish the op­por­tu­nity for peace. — Reuters/AP

See­ing the an­nounced state­ments and re­sponses ... we see the two par­ties as hav­ing a sin­cere and se­ri­ous at­ti­tude (to stand in each other’s shoes). Blue House of­fi­cial

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