Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018
World

Clashing views color future of stalled N.Korea nuclear talks

SEOUL, South Korea – To hear a beaming Donald Trump at his June summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, the solution to North Korea's headlong pursuit of nuclear weapons, a foreign policy nightmare that has flummoxed US leaders since the early 1990s, was at hand .

Since there have been recriminations, simmering bad blood – and very little progress. In other words, just what skeptics in Seoul and Washington have come to expect from North Korean nuclear diplomacy.

So even as Trump says he's keen on another summit, possibly early next year, will continue to be angry and foot-dragging from Pyongyang, which has bluntly stated that it is "inconsistent."

One of the problems is a matter of wording. The statement hammered out in Singapore, which called for "the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," was so vague that it seemed tailor made for a stalemate: and it's the other side's responsibility to act.

So where do we go from here?

A second summit seems the most likely answer.

Trump's national security adviser said such a meeting would not be a reward and that the president wants to give North Korea a chance to live up to the commitments they made at the Singapore summit.

"He's held the door open for them," John Bolton said in an interview with NPR. "And this is one more chance for Kim Jong Who is the only decision maker that matters in the North Korean system to deliver on what he said in Singapore, and that's possible I think some time after the first of the year."

Trump and Kim's main envoys, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong Chol.

Pompeo did meet on Thursday in Washington with South Korea's foreign ministry in a new attempt to push the process forward. The State Department said that the two officials "reaffirmed the ironclad alliance between the United States and (South) Korea and pledged to maintain close coordination to ensure the final, fully verified denuclearization of (North) Korea."

Pompeo has traveled to Pyongyang four times this year, but has not yet made it to North Korean official in New York last month when the North balked. Tentative plans to reschedule those talks, perhaps uncertainly.

Meanwhile, Pompeo's invitation to North Korea sends, train Ford Motor Co. executive Stephen Biegun, and has gone unanswered.

The views from both Seoul and Washington are complicated.

South Koreans Are Famous for Ignoring North Korean threats, including repeated vows to turn Killings of Truth and Kim Jong more powerful weapons. Even the most jaded would say that things are better now.

There has been some curiosity at the warming-up between South Korean President Jae-in Kim and Kim, who have had three summits and agreed on an unprecedented trip to Seoul by Kim, possibly in coming weeks. Among the most famous places in the world, one of the most famous people in the world, filling a water bottle at a "sacred" volcano lake in the North, and Kim being spirited across the inter-Korean the world's most heavily armed, in an armored limousine, a phalanx of burly bodyguards jogging alongside.

But South Koreans, especially conservatives who have seen the moon, have decided to go ahead. North Korea, it is true, has not carried out a nuclear or ICBM test since November 2017, facilities.

Like the others, the latest such report, released on Thursday, is drawn from commercial satellite imagery and shows activity at a previously undisclosed site where the North is believed to be expanding to a missile base. "The North Korea's newest long-range missiles, including those that strike the United States," wrote the report's authors at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Although Kim made no promises to halt such work, and US and South Korean officials played down their findings, they said they were already aware of so that they could be inspected and verifiably dismantled in the event a denuclearization deal is reached.

As Washington and Pyongyang have drifted apart, Moon, his popularity numbers hovering around 50 percent, has scrambled to keep the diplomacy alive.

The United States and the United States of America have long been in the grips of nuclear missile testing and the dismantling of nuclear weapons. They also briefly floated a proposal that Washington consider softer sanctions on the North.

Preservatives in Seoul, however, believe that Kim's outreach is meant to split Seoul from Washington, its military protector, so it will be harder for the allies to boost sanctions and pressure should diplomacy fail. Any Trump-Kim summit redux, they say, needs to be prefaced with at least a statement from the North of the extent of its secretive missile and nuclear programs; otherwise, it would be just another one of those countries that has been forced to ramp up the tension only to reap rewards by seeming to turn to diplomacy.

Still, in a place that has seen regular flare-ups of violence since the near-total destruction of the Korean War in the early 1950s, there is also interest in seeing if Trump and Kim can pursue in another summit a rare opportunity to test the sincerity of Kim's declaration that with his weapons program "complete," he intends to pivot to face his country up from poverty.

"With nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula dramatically reduced," Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear expert who has made regular trips to North Korea's nuclear facilities, wrote recently on 38 North, a website devoted to North Korea studies. "He may determine that his nuclear arsenal poses a significant hindrance to economic development that outweighs the putative benefits it confers. Washington and Seoul should work together to promote this potential shift. "

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Lee reported from Washington. Follow him at www.twitter.com/APDiploWriter and Foster Klug, AP's chief office for South Korea, at www.twitter.com/apklug.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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