Recent talks between the leaders of North and South Korea have led to some cautiously optimistic predictions after decades of hostilities.
The volatile relationship between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and most of the rest of the world has largely hinged on his incessant pursuit of nuclear weapons.
As part of ongoing communications, South Korean President Moon Jae-in indicated this week that North Korea is willing to consider “complete denuclearization” as part of a plan that could restore peace to the peninsula.
According to Moon’s announcement Thursday, Kim’s demands do not include deal-breakers that might stall a planned summit between the North Korean leader and U.S. President Donald Trump.
“They have not attached any conditions that the U.S. cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea,” he said.
North Korea had included that demand in multiple previous preliminary talks about denuclearlization, stalling those negotiations.
This time is different, Moon claimed in his address this week.
“All they are expressing is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security,” he said.
The South Korean president noted, however, that those conditions could be enough to derail hopes of a denuclearized North.
He acknowledged that talks between the two Koreas have “a lot of constraints” since Kim has tied his conditions to sanction relief and his planned talks with Trump. In the interim, Moon explained that there is little the two nations can do to further a plan toward denuclearizing the peninsula.
Increased communications between Kim and Moon could have benefits for the two nations, though.
Technically at war since a 1953 armistice, relatively cooler tensions between North and South Korea that began prior to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games have led to renewed talks of a treaty that would officially end the Korean War.
Ahead of a summit between the U.S. and North Korean leaders, CIA Director — and Trump’s pick to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state — Mike Pompeo made a secret trip to meet with Kim. He later said the two were able to form a “good relationship.”
Trump and Kim are expected to meet in person at some point in the next two months.
The U.S. president has also expressed support for efforts to secure a peace treaty between the North and South.
In a statement Tuesday, he claimed that people “don’t realize the Korean War has not ended.”
Referencing the more than six decades since the truce between the two nations, Trump said that the war is “going on right now.”
He endorsed ongoing talks to bring the war to an end.
“Subject to a deal they have my blessing and they do have my blessing to discuss that,” the president said.
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