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Possibility for inter-Korean talks leading to N. Korea-U.S. dialogue

Possibility for inter-Korean talks leading to N. Korea-U.S. dialogue

Posted January. 12, 2018 08:07,   

Updated January. 12, 2018 08:26


In a telephone conversation with President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday (local time), U.S. President Donald Trump “expressed his openness to holding talks between the United States and North Korea at the appropriate time under the right circumstances.” Trump added in a cabinet meeting that if it weren’t for our attitude (to pressure North Korea), inter-Korean talks would have never happened and President Moon thanked us for what we did. The change is gaining attention as the dialogue channel between North Korea and the United States may open while inter-Korean talks are ongoing.

President Trump is strongly convinced that inter-Korean talks are the result of the pressure that his administration has been laying on North Korea and is fully confident. Collaboration between South Korea and the United States has been stronger than ever since President Moon took office. “The North Korean nuclear issue must be addressed to restore relations with North Korea,” said President Moon in the New Year press conference. His steadfast stance on putting the nuclear issue first rather than North-South dialogue has also contributed to stronger collaboration with the United States.

North Korea has traditionally maintained a strategy of isolating South Korea while engaging with the United States, but it recently attempted to communicate with the Washington via Seoul. If a dialogue channel opens between North Korea and the United States, there is a high chance that the North may refuse denuclearization with the South, taking advantage of contact with the South as a tool to kindle moderate policy toward the North.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should be clearly aware that President Trump’s comments on a possible North Korea-U.S. talk go hand in hand with existing warnings of military action. Though Trump’s approach to North Korea is often criticized as unstable and unpredictable, it is actually a very consistent discipline. Under a non-tolerance policy of North Korea possessing nuclear missiles that threaten the United States, Washington is flexible in adopting various means including military action, economic sanctions and dialogue.

The opening of North Korea-U.S. dialogue is an opportunity as well as a challenge. Should the talks hastily start and fail, the circumstance on the Korean Peninsula can be likened to a situation where two trains race toward each other. On the other hand, if the Trump administration comes to the negotiating table internally abandoning the principle of a “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID)” and substitutes its goal to preventing the provocation and proliferation of nuclear missiles, South Korea will be the biggest victim by living with a nuclear North Korea. The Moon Jae-in administration should faithfully maintain strong collaboration with the United States to stay focused on the goal to achieve a completely nuclear free peninsula.