Korean Leaders Take Diplomacy to New Heights

Larry Hoffman
September 21, 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had invited North Korea's foreign minister to meet in NY next week, with the aim of completing its denuclearisation by January 2021, after a Pyongyang summit between the leaders of the two Koreas. "If another U.S. -North Korea summit occurs and Chairman Kim Jong Un confirms this statement to President Trump, that will be meaningful progress".

South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has requested to hold another summit with US President Donald Trump soon in order to move along Pyongyang's process of denuclearisation. Kim say Mount Paektu has become a "subject of yearning" for South Koreans and Koreans living overseas.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also praised the "important commitments", saying he invited his North Korean counterpart to talk next week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, and representatives of both sides to meet "at the earliest opportunity" in Vienna - home of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Washington calls for concrete action, such as a full disclosure of North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities, before satisfying Pyongyang's key demands, including an official end to the war and the easing of global sanctions.

An unprecedented June summit in Singapore between Trump and Kim aimed to break a decades-long standoff between the two countries, which have never formally ended the 1950-1953 Korean War.

This week, Kim promised to allow outside experts to observe the dismantling of a missile engine test site and launch pad. Trump also declared, "we're making tremendous progress" with North Korea, citing its halt in nuclear and missile testing since last November.

The joint statement from the summit stipulates Kim's commitment to a "verifiable, irreversible dismantlement" of the nuclear programmes, and ending the war would be a first U.S. reciprocal step, Moon said.

"We have agreed to make the Korean Peninsula a land of peace that is free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat", Kim said.

"The peace treaty will be fulfilled as the final step of complete denuclearization".

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The statement caps off the third summit between Kim and Moon, who is under increasing pressure from Washington to find a path forward in its efforts to get Kim to completely - and unilaterally - abandon his nuclear arsenal. He didn't indicate in his brief remarks whether the U.S. would be willing to take further steps to encourage North Korean action on denuclearisation.

Kim and Moon raised their clasped hands aloft on the crater rim and the South Korean president expressed hopes many of his countrymen would follow in his footsteps. -South Korea joint live-fire military exercise, at a training field near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Pocheon, South Korea, April 21, 2017.

Now, the USA appears ready to seize on Kim's new commitments, even if it's unclear how serious he is about them, and talks are back on. In this case, an attack from the U.S. against North Korea would then violate global law.

"Such measures should be taken in a balanced manner between North Korea and the United States", he said.

Although Moon could have visited the summit sooner from the Chinese side, he had wanted to go by "stepping on our soil", Kim Eui-kyeom, a South Korean presidential spokesman, said at a briefing.

On Wednesday, the South Korean president said Kim had agreed to visit Seoul before the end of the year.

North Korea now faces worldwide sanctions that limit nearly all of its exports and strongly limit imports from its few trading partners.

"The South and North agreed to actively participate jointly in worldwide competitions including the 2020 Summer Olympics and to cooperate in bidding for the South-North joint hosting of the 2032 Summer Olympics", the statement said. "Many, particularly in Seoul, are advocating relief or release from sanctions".

However, he added, "I think that we could have to see all of that before we would consider reducing our troop's level". Lindsey Graham, a Republican from SC, who tweeted that he was concerned the visit would undermine efforts by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley to impose "maximum pressure" on the North.

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