The Trump administration made a surprising reveal yesterday about its plans to engage in direct talks with the North Korean government by May of this year. South Korea’s National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong made the announcement at the White House on the evening of March 8 following his meeting with Donald Trump:
I told President Trump that, in our meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he is committed to denuclearisation. Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests… And he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.
President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization…
Along with President Trump, we are optimistic about continuing a diplomatic process to test the possibility of a peaceful resolution.
This groundbreaking announcement comes on a historic week when North and South Korea agreed to hold its summit meeting in late April. Chung was sent to Pyongyang by South Korean President Moon Jae-in just days prior as a part of a special envoy that met with North Korea’s leadership, including Chairman Kim Jong-un.
Christine Ahn of Women Cross DMZ and Tim Shorrock, correspondent for The Nation and the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism in Seoul, were interviewed on The Real News to discuss this historic turning point. Both Ahn and Shorrock talked about the significance of recent engagement by South and North Korea that pushed the U.S. to join in keeping the momentum of peaceful dialogue.
(Video by The Real News)
Ahn cautioned the public about how the U.S. media is framing this sudden shift towards peaceful dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea. She expressed her concerns about the mainstream media crediting the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy of harsh sanctions and war-provoking military exercises for bringing North Korea to the negotiating table:
[I]f we take this certain framework that is being put forward by the media that the “maximum pressure” is what worked to force North Korea to dialogue versus a much more diplomatic… fancy footwork by Moon Jae-in that really took into account North Korea’s security concerns… My concern with that framework is that then doesn’t look at the other side of the equation, which is North Korea’s genuine security concerns. And if you are going to try to reach a successful denuclearization deal, you must address those security concerns.
Democracy Now! also spoke with Tim Shorrock about the prospects for peace in Korea.
(Video by Democracy Now!)
During the interview with Democracy Now! Shorrock credited South Korea for its role in creating the conditions for the upcoming talks:
Well, the significance is that when President Moon took office last May, he said South Korea should be in the driver’s seat of the Korea peace initiative and in engagement with North Korea… And he has remained there… He made offers last year to North Korea to meet… And finally, on January 1st, Kim Jong-un said he would send a high-level delegation to the Olympics and would engage with talks with South Korea…
I think we really need to focus on the role that South Korea has played and… the history of North-South engagement and talks.
Shorrock also talked about what North Korea is offering to give up as they are agreeing to the talks with the United States:
And I think it’s important to look at the concessions that North Korea made. After all, one of the big issues they have had for years has been these U.S.-South Korean military exercises that take place twice a year… which they’ve practiced, over the years, things like… decapitation of the leadership of North Korea and assassination and regime change. Well, North Korea agreed to these talks and said they would suspend their nuclear tests and their missile tests while any talks went forward, but… they will also not object to U.S.-South Korean military exercises, if they were scaled down. And, in fact, they’ve been scaled down. There’s a story this morning in the South Korean press that the U.S. aircraft carriers and submarines that normally take part in these exercises, that are going to begin in late March, will not take part.
Shorrock was referring to an announcement made by a senior official of South Korea’s Defense Ministry earlier today. The official announced March 9 that U.S aircraft carriers will not be partaking in joint military exercises with South Korea in the upcoming Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises in April and May. Last year the U.S. deployed the USS Carl Vinson as a part of its “U.S. strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula.”
Although there was no official statement made by U.S. military officials, the South Korean Defense Ministry official also spoke about the possibility of “no nuclear submarines” being deployed to the Korean Peninsula.
By ZoominKorea staff
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