February 19, 2019 11:40
As the second U.S.-North Korea summit approaches, concerns are rising that U.S. President Donald Trump will settle for any deal that can be sold to voters at home and skips on full denuclearization.
Pundits expect that the two sides will at best reach an agreement freezing the North’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programs, even though President Moon Jae-in voiced high hopes on Monday that there "will be huge progress during the second U.S.-North Korea summit."
Politico reported Sunday, "Stung by domestic defeat after a losing battle with Democrats in Washington, D.C., this winter, President Donald Trump hopes his negotiating skills can achieve better results some 8,000 miles away when he meets with North Korea's leader in Vietnam later this month."
Stephen Biegun, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, will fly to Hanoi soon for talks with his North Korean counterpart Kim Hyok-chol. A diplomatic source in Seoul said, "North Korea will aggressively demand an easing or lifting of sanctions until the day of the summit. There is a strong chance that resuming package tours to Mt. Kumgang and the reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Complex will be included in those demands."
The South Korean government apparently discussed with the U.S. opening an escrow account or giving North Korea goods instead of cash in order to avoid bulk payments that would violate sanctions. This has led to speculation that the U.S. may allow tours to Mt. Kumgang if the North agrees to specific denuclearization steps like allowing inspections of its nuclear facilities.
CNN reported that Trump was "seriously considering exchanging liaison officers, an incremental step towards building formal diplomatic relations."
But Moon told religious leaders over lunch at Cheong Wa Dae, "We expect to see huge progress during the second U.S.-North Korea summit in terms of normalizing bilateral relations. We hope to see a rapid and concrete implementation of the joint statement made in Singapore" at the first U.S.-North Korea summit.
But that statement included only a vague commitment by the North to "work toward" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
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