South Korea steps in to salvage North, US talks
Seoul – Next week’s inter-Korean summit will test whether South Korean President Moon Jae-in can pull off his role of mediator and salvage stalled nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington.
Moon will have his third meeting with Kim Jong-un on Tuesday, amid scepticism over whether the North Korean leader was serious about denuclearisation – a goal pledged to at his summit with US President Donald Trump in June.
Trump last week asked Moon to act as “chief negotiator” between Washington and Pyongyang, according to Moon’s spokesperson, after Trump cancelled a visit to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month.
Moon will discuss ways to achieve that with Kim, seeking to engineer a proposal that combines a framework for North Korea’s denuclearisation and a joint declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War, Seoul officials said.
The South Korean scheme would call for Pyongyang to promise to reveal or declare its nuclear and missile facilities, followed by a joint end-of-war declaration, two sources familiar with the issue said. North Korea would then provide a list of the sites for verification and eventual decommissioning by international inspectors, said sources who were not authorised to speak publicly.
Moon Jae-in told advisors on the summit: “One of the roles we should play in the middle is to find a point of contact and present it, and expedite dialogue again to accelerate the denuclearisation process.”
Cho Tae-yong, a former South Korean deputy presidential national security advisor, said: “The US wants a solid roadmap, but the North has been avoiding it and instead unilaterally taking what it calls denuclearisation measures that fall far short of US expectations. If Moon helps both sides move toward a framework agreement, he could be a catalyst for negotiations, but it’s a very tough task.” – Reuters