North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said this week that tensions with the United States could increase if America does not become more flexible in talks between the two countries.
North Korean and U.S. negotiators have reached an impasse on the issues of sanctions against North Korea and North Korean denuclearization.
North Korea’s position is that sanctions must be removed before it will consider giving up any nuclear weapons. The United States insists upon denuclearization preceding any easing of sanctions.
Kim’s call for a more flexible American attitude came after a Thursday meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
“The situation on the Korean peninsula and the region is now at a standstill and has reached a critical point where it may return to its original state as the U.S. took a unilateral attitude in bad faith at the recent second DPRK-U.S. summit talks,” North Korea’s official KCNA news agency quoted Kim as saying, Reuters reported. KCNA used the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.
“The DPRK will gird itself for every possible situation,” KCNA quoted Kim as having said.
According to Reuters, Putin told reporters North Korea should receive some guarantees that giving up nuclear weapons would not result in an attack by foreign nations.
“They only need guarantees about their security. That’s it. All of us together need to think about this,” Putin said, adding that the guarantees would need to be legally binding.
He suggested other nations should be involved, noting that Russia, China, Japan and South Korea had joined the United States and North Korea in previous talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.
On Friday, President Donald Trump was upbeat about negotiations with North Korea, according to a White House media pool report.
“I think we’re doing very well with North Korea. A lot of progress is being made. I appreciated President Putin’s statement yesterday. He wants to see it done, also,” Trump said outside the White House before leaving to address the National Rifle Association.
He said even with difficulties, talking is better than threatening.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement toward getting a deal done with North Korea. In the meantime, when I came here, there were nuclear tests, missile tests, rocket tests. We got our hostages back. We got remains back, and continue to come back from the war,” the president said. “Our great heroes — the remains. There’s been no tests. There’s been no nothing. So, at some point, you’re going to report the facts.
“I have a great relationship with Kim Jong Un. I appreciate that Russia and China is helping us. And China is helping us because I think they want to. They don’t need nuclear weapons right next to their country. But I also think they’re helping us because of the fact that we’re in a trade deal, which, by the way, is going very well.”
William Hagerty, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, said Thursday that Kim’s efforts to get Russian support show sanctions are forcing North Korea’s hand.
“The fact you see Kim Jong Un meeting with Vladimir Putin underscores the fact that the sanctions are working and the sanctions are putting extreme economic pressure on the North Korean regime,” Hagerty said.
“What we see is an outreach to try to find a way to deal with it. There is a much simpler way to deal with it, and that is to denuclearize,” he said.
Cho Yoon-je, South Korea’s ambassador to the United States, said Kim is jockeying for a more favorable response in upcoming talks.
“North Korea seems to be trying to expand its negotiating position with the U.S.,” Cho said. “The U.S. continues to send a message to North Korea through channels at every level that it is open to dialogue. …
“The expectation seems to be that the North may respond once Chairman Kim Jong Un’s diplomatic schedule is completed.”
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