North advises U.S. to adopt the ‘right attitude’Pyongyang urged Washington to offer reciprocal measures to its denuclearization gestures on Monday via a propaganda outlet as both countries prepare to strike a deal at a Vietnam summit late this month.
Arirang-Meari, a North Korean propaganda website that caters to audiences outside the North, wrote in a Korean editorial that the entire nation and international society were waiting for the United States to “sincerely respond” to Pyongyang’s efforts to implement the agreements made in their first summit last June 12, and through that response, herald “real peace” and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the world. Without explicitly elaborating on its wants or needs, the North called on the United States to acknowledge and respect its negotiating partner by coming into talks with the “right negotiating attitude” and “a will to solve problems.”
The editorial said the people of both North and South Korea want an end to their “disgraceful history,” apparently pushing the United States to sign a formal declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
If Washington responds to Pyongyang’s efforts, bilateral relations will improve much faster than now, Arirang-Meari continued.
The article was published a day after the U.S. special representative to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, left Seoul Sunday following briefings to local officials about his visit to Pyongyang, which lasted from last Wednesday through Friday. Both Biegun and South Korean officials remained tight-lipped about the envoy’s discussions with North Korean officials, but according to multiple diplomatic sources in Seoul and Washington, the talks mainly revolved around promises North Korea made last year but has yet to fulfill.
One diplomatic source who didn’t want to be named told the JoongAng Ilbo Saturday that both sides talked about scrapping North Korea’s Tongchang-ri missile engine test site and launch pad, as well as the Yongbyon nuclear facility, which the regime vowed to get rid of last September during the third summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The North, at the time, said its scrapping of Yongbyon hinged on “reciprocal measures” from the United States.
Pyongyang hasn’t followed through on either promise yet.
Another U.S. diplomatic source told the JoongAng Ilbo Sunday the United States was reviewing the option of declaring a formal end to the Korean War.
A war-ending declaration won’t happen all at once, though, the source pointed out, but the United States was considering striking an agreement with the North highlighting the need for a declaration, and then draw some kind of a roadmap to that goal.
According to a high-level Blue House official, the South Korean government is worried about the possibility that Washington may strike a “small deal” with Pyongyang late this month due to pressure at home to return with a tangible result.
In such a small deal, the United States would focus on wiping out the North’s intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which can reach as far as the U.S mainland, instead of tackling the entire ballistic missile and nuclear program, including short- and mid-ranged missiles that threaten South Korea and Japan.
Amid looming fears here that the Trump administration was opting for a small deal, Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Sunday in a press briefing that Biegun told Moon’s national security advisor, Chung Eui-yong, “We are on the same page,” while describing his latest trip to Pyongyang on Saturday.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN, KANG TAE-HWA AND CHUN SU-JIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]