South Korean President Insists Negotiations with North Korea ‘on Track’

The Associated Press
Bee Jae-man/Yonhap via AP

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday that North Korea’s criticism of the United States is merely a negotiating tactic, and plans to denuclearize the Korean peninsula remain “on track” for a successful outcome.

“No one can be optimistic about the results, but my cautious outlook is that the negotiations would be able to succeed if the North carries out a complete denuclearization, and the international community gathers efforts to provide security guarantees to the North,” Moon said following a meeting with Singaporean President Halimah Yacob.

Moon’s remarks come days after a spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry dismissed remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he had “made progress on almost all of the central issues” during a recent visit to Pyongyang, arguing that their hope for friendly and productive talks was “so naive as to be foolish.”

“The U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization just calling for CVID, declaration, and verification, all of which run counter to the spirit of the Singapore summit meeting and talks,” a spokesman said in a statement. “The U.S. side never mentioned the issue of establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula which is essential for defusing tension and preventing a war.”

“The issues the U.S. side insisted on at the talks are all roots of troubles, which the previous administrations also had insisted on to disrupt the dialogue processes, stoke the distrust and increase the danger of war,” the statement continued, adding that they still “cherish our good faith in President Trump.”

Pompeo later played down the remarks, pointing to the fact that he was following a unanimous agreement by the United Nations Security Council about the negotiating objectives.

“If those requests were ‘gangster-like’ then the world is a gangster because there was a unanimous decision at the U.N. Security Council about what needs to be achieved,” Pompeo said.

Moon was later quoted by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency as saying there was a “better chance than ever” that North Korea would push forward with denuclearization, citing the fact that the North has invited journalists into the country and dismantled one of their nuclear sites.

“There are mixed views but I believe the two sides have entered a normal process and that practical working-level negotiations have been launched,” he said. “There have been questions if the denuclearisation North Korea has been talking about was the same as the denuclearisation the US and South Korea have been talking about.

“Secretary Pompeo’s North Korea visit has confirmed that there is no difference between the two on the concept of denuclearization,” he continued. “Another important point is that what North Korea is demanding from the U.S. is not the removal of sanctions or economic compensation like in the past but the termination of their hostile relationship and establishment of trust.”

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