April 13 (UPI) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might be eager to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a South Korean delegate who met with a North Korean official for talks in Finland in March.
Jo Dong-ho, president of the Institute for National Security Strategy under the state’s spy agency, said Choe Kang Il, the deputy director-general for North America at Pyongyang’s foreign ministry, had expressed concern about the upcoming U.S.-North Korea meeting at the “1.5” track talks in Helsinki, South Korea’s Financial News reported Friday.
Jo attended the meeting, where he met with the North Korean official as well as an informal U.S. delegation that included former U.S. Ambassadors to Seoul Kathleen Stephens, Thomas Hubbard and Robert Carlin at Stanford University.
North Korean anxiety about the summit with the United States may stem from incredulity regarding the go-ahead from Trump.
Trump recently expressed “excitement” about the planned summit with Kim Jong Un, only months after calling Kim “little rocket man” on Twitter.
“The issue has been resolved now, but at the time [of the Finland meeting] the North Korean delegate asked how he could trust President Trump,” Jo told reporters in Seoul on Friday. “They were worried the summit would not go as planned, and they pleaded the summit be realized since the ‘South Korean government made the U.S.-North Korea summit possible’.”
Jo also said North Korea appeared to have entirely abandoned the idea of six-party talks following the announcements of summits with South Korea and the United States.
“They mentioned the six-party talks are dead,” Jo said, adding North Korea’s new strategy includes direct bilateral dealings with the United States as South Korea plays a mediating role.
Newsis reported Cho also said North Korean anxiousness is a sign of “its extreme eagerness to improve relations with the United States.”
Lee Ki-dong of the Institute of National Security Strategy said if North Korea perceives an end to what it has called U.S. “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang, the country could tolerate the presence of U.S. forces on the peninsula.
There are 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.