March 30, 2018 10:23
Seoul on Thursday cautiously welcomed North Korean leader Kin Jong-un's recent visit to China but made no comment on Kim's proposal of a "phased and simultaneous" approach to denuclearization.
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Kim's "announcement of his willingness to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula" is "highly significant." He added that having China on board in fresh negotiations would help achieve stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Cheong Wa Dae prefers a "package settlement" of dealing with the nuclear issue and establishing a peace treaty, while the U.S. wants "complete, verifiable and irreversible" steps to ending the North's nuclear program first.
Moon has promised U.S. President Donald Trump that he would make "thorough preparations" to ensure that past mistakes during nuclear dismantlement talks with North Korea are not repeated.
But Kim's opening gambit in the negotiations sounds very much like the salami-slicing of small concessions and rewards that proved a dead end during the rule of his father Kim Jong-il.
A Cheong Wa Dae official said, "North Korea will agree to talks if there are some benefits," suggesting that Seoul now feels that some kind of carrot has to be offered.
The prevalent view is that Kim's phrase was only the opening shot in complex multilateral negotiations. A Cheong Wa Dae official said, "The package settlement and phased approach are not separate, but go hand in hand in a broad sense."
It remains to be seen if a clearer picture will emerge in upcoming summits between North Korea and the U.S. and South Korea.
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