South Korean President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to visit Washington on Tuesday for a meeting with President Donald Trump to discuss North Korea policy.
The meeting will occur just three weeks before Trump is set to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un for a historic summit in Singapore, assuming North Korea does not make good on recent threats to withdraw from the summit.
South Korean officials said Trump and Moon will “discuss ways to guarantee a bright future for the North when North Korea achieves denuclearization.”
President Trump spoke in a similar manner on Thursday, assuring Kim Jong-un that he will be “very, very happy” if he makes a deal with the United States, and his country would become “very rich.”
Trump added that if Kim does not make a deal, he will most likely face the “total decimation” model of denuclearization and regime change employed with the late Muammar Qaddafi of Libya. Pyongyang has specifically cited Libya as the model of denuclearization they refuse to pursue, in response to comments from National Security Adviser John Bolton that North Korea should follow the Libyan process—by which he meant swift and verifiable denuclearization, not regime change followed by the death of the former dictator at the hands of an angry mob.
“South Korean officials say they hope Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump will meet halfway, agreeing on an early timetable to exchange denuclearization for security guarantees from Washington. They suggest the exchange can take place in a ‘phased’ manner, as the North demands, and be carried out quickly, as Washington wants – perhaps before the end of Mr. Trump’s presidential term in early 2021,” the New York Times reported on Friday.
The Times also said the United States is considering a South Korean proposal for “early trust-building measures” with North Korea to build credibility for a denuclearization agreement, such as North Korea dismantling some of its missile production facilities and granting full access to its nuclear sites while the United States eases some of the toughest sanctions in place against Pyongyang.
The NYT adds that President Moon’s office has denied a Japanese report that the U.S. and South Korea demanded North Korea ship some of its nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles out of the country as a first step to denuclearization. According to this report, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Kim Jong-un that if he gives up some of his weapons immediately, the U.S. might remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.