Seoul push­ing to rekin­dle talks with North Korea

The Herald - - INTERNATIONAL -

SOUTH Korea has said it is 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.

The an­nounce­ment by Seoul’s pres­i­den­tial Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (NSC) came a day af­ter North Korea threat­ened to scrap next month’s historic meet­ing be­tween Mr Trump and Mr 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 high­level meet­ing with South Korea to protest at 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 is 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 Mr Kim and Mr Trump, sched­uled for June 12 in Sin­ga­pore.

South Korea, which bro­kered the talks be­tween Mr Kim and Mr Trump, will “closely me­di­ate us­ing mul­ti­ple com­mu­ni­ca­tion channels with the United States and with North Korea so that the North Korea-us sum­mit can pro­ceed suc­cess­fully,” said the NSC af­ter a meet­ing chaired by Chung Eui-yong, the top se­cu­rity ad­viser of South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in.

The NSC also urged the North to faith­fully abide by the agree­ments reached be­tween Mr Moon and Mr Kim in their sum­mit last month, where they is­sued a vague vow on the “com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion” of their penin­sula and pledged per­ma­nent peace.

Se­nior of­fi­cials from the two Koreas were to sit down at a border vil­lage on Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss how to implement their lead­ers’ agree­ments to re­duce mil­i­tary ten­sions along their heav­ily for­ti­fied border and im­prove over­all ties be­fore the North can­celled the meet­ing.

In Wash­ing­ton, Mr Trump said the US has not been no­ti­fied about the North Korean threat to can­cel the sum­mit.

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