South Korea steps in to sal­vage North, US talks

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - WORLD -

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

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