Seoul Gears up for Intermediary Role Between N.Korea and U.S.

  • By Jeong Woo-sang

    May 18, 2018 12:57

    Cheong Wa Dae has decided to play an intermediary role between Washington and Pyongyang again. The decision was made Thursday in a session of the National Security Council chaired by Chung Eui-yong.

    "We decided to fine-tune opinions closely between Seoul and Washington and between the two Koreas through various channels so that the upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit can be held successfully based on the spirit of mutual respect," a Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said.

    "We also decided to continue negotiations with the North for an early resumption of high-level cross-border talks," the spokesman added.

    A senior presidential official told reporters, "This means that Washington and Pyongyang should see things from each other's perspective. It seems that there was a gap in views between the North and the U.S., and both sides need to be willing to understand each other's position to solve this problem."

    "I mean that Washington must try to understand the issues presented by the North better," the official added. "There's distrust between the U.S., which wants complete denuclearization, and the North, which wants guarantees for the survival of the regime, including the establishment of diplomatic relations with the U.S. and a halt to hostile acts," the official added. "Our intermediary role will be focused on narrowing this gap."

    That is a tall order given that distrust has mounted over 25 years of failed nuclear deals.

    Chung the same day talked on the phone with White House national security adviser John Bolton. President Moon Jae-in meets his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump next Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, the Unification Ministry and the National Intelligence Service are expected to try to persuade Pyongyang through their channels that a "Trumpian model," which demands denuclearization in return for the regime security guarantees and economic support.

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