Seoul: US-North Korea talks may precede inter-Korean dialogue in April


On returning from Pyongyang, Chung Eui-yong, South Korea's national security director, said North Korea expressed willingness to hold a "candid dialogue" with the United States to discuss its nuclear disarmament and establish diplomatic relations.

However, there has been no comment from Pyongyang itself and previous American negotiations with North Korea failed to solve the crisis.

According to the Pentagon, North Korea probably has a long-standing chemical weapons program with the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood, and choking agents and likely possesses a chemical weapons stockpile that could be used with artillery and ballistic missiles.

Later this week officials from South Korea, who brought the message from Kim, as well as officials from Japan and the US, will huddle in Washington to compare notes. They resulted in a series of cooperative projects that were scuttled during subsequent conservative administrations in South Korea. In 2010, the country stunned the region by unveiling a small, industrial-scale uranium enrichment facility that could allow it a second route to manufacture nuclear weapons.

The United States, Go said, may face a "dilemma" over whether to accept the North's reported offer for talks, but, in the end, it may pursue "exploratory talks" to hear directly how far North Korea is willing to disarm.

China yesterday praised the "positive outcomes" of the meeting in Pyongyang, urging both sides to "seize the current opportunity" to promote the denuclearization of the Korea Peninsula.

Wary of that gambit, Vice President Mike Pence vowed to uphold the US campaign of "maximum pressure" until Pyongyang takes concrete steps to abandon its weapons - insisting the US posture "will not change until we see credible, verifiable, and concrete steps toward denuclearization".

"Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea", he wrote. This also indicates that China has begun to pull back some of its support from its rogue puppet, as the last thing the Chinese want is a war on their doorstep.

It has also been agreed that the two Koreas' leaders will meet at a summit in April for the first time in more than a decade, and the first since Mr Kim took power. Juliana Idris, the first person she spoke to at the counter, said that his hands were shaking a bit.

Kim Jong-nam was largely estranged from his family and was bypassed for the leadership in favour of his younger half-brother, Kim Jong-un.

Trump often has derided North Korea's Kim Jong Un as unstable, calling him "rocket man" and taunting him with a tweet describing Trump's nuclear detonation button as "much bigger & more powerful" than Kim's.

"Right now, there is nothing that has been settled".

While cautioning that the definition of "military threats" the North wanted to see removed was "up for interpretation", he believed Washington and Pyongyang "would soon begin serious dialogue". Talks or no talks, North Korea will continue on its nuclear trajectory.

President Donald Trump said the United States is "willing to go either way" in response to North Korea's development of nuclear-tipped missiles, adding "hopefully it's going to be the proper way".

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that dialogue for dialogue's sake is meaningless and that the allies "should fully take into consideration lessons from our past dialogues with the North, none of which achieved denuclearization".

"Seoul is not in a position to unilaterally repeal independent sanctions", he said, noting that the current sanctions on the North have been imposed by the U.N. Security Council and the United States.

When co-leader of the minor opposition Bareun Future Party Yoo Seong-min said pressure on the North remained crucial, President Moon ruled out the possibility of easing sanctions. "Also, the North promised not to use atomic weapons or conventional weapons towards the South", he told reporters, adding that Seoul and Pyongyang would set up a hotline between the leaders.