Will ‘Olympic Detente’ Lead to Denuclearization?
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Will ‘Olympic Detente’ Lead to Denuclearization?
North Korea-U.S. summit slated for May following Inter-Korean talks scheduled for April

26(Mon), Mar, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. They are scheduled to hold summit talks in May.

Cheong Wa Dae is seeking to hold summit talks between President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump in a run-up to the inter-Korean talks scheduled for April and a North Korea-U.S. summit slated for May. 

The presidential office said it is also seeking to regularize inter-Korean summit talks following the upcoming talks between President Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the inter-Korean border of Panmunjom. The agenda of the inter-Korean talks will focus on denuclearization and issues of a peace accord, including the declaration of the end of the war. 

The presidential office’s move is expected to have the inter-Korean and successive North Korea-U.S. summit talks take up such issues as denuclearization and the signing of a peace agreement guaranteeing the survival of the North Korean regime. 

Cheong Wa Dae Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok, chairman of the committee for preparing inter-Korean summit talks, said, “It will be better for South Korea and the United States to hold working summit talks on core topics following the inter-Korean summit.” 

He made the remarks at a news briefing following the inaugural meeting of the committee he presided over on March 16. As to the agenda of the inter-Korean summit talks, Cheong Wa Dae Chief of Staff Im said, “It should be a turning point for the principal solution of peace on the Korean Peninsula, and to this end, a focus will be on the agendas on the denuclearization of the peninsula, the settlement of peace inclusive dramatically alleviation of military tensions and the ones on new and bold advancement of inter-Korean ties.” 

President Moon Jae-in meets with North Korea’s special envoy, Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of the North Korean leader, at Cheong Wa Dae after attending the opening ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The inter-Korean summit talks are expected to take place over one day, Im said. But he added the inter-Korean summit at the Panmunjom will be settled into a new format of summit talks, hinting at the regularizing such summits. 

The committee decided to propose high-level inter-Korean talks for the summit talks to be held in early April, and the South Korean side’s artist troupe and taekwondo demonstration teams’ performances take place in early April. 

In a telephone conservation between President Moon and U.S. President Trump on March 16, the two leaders agreed to continue closer collaboration according to stages so that North Korea can proactively move toward denuclearization. Explaining the outcomes of Presidential National Security Chief Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service (NIS) Chief Suh Hoon’s trips to China and Russia, respectively, President Moon said the two countries are backing North Korea-U.S. summit talks. 

He went on to say that he would make efforts during inter-Korean talks to create an environment for the successful holding of North Korea-U.S. summit talks. 

President Moon also said thorough steps would be taken to cope with worries, caused by past failures in which North Korea signed agreements and walked away in the process of implementation.

U.S. media outlets reported that U.S. President Trump’s appointment of CIA Director Mike Pompeo as state secretary, replacing Rex Tillerson, might delay the upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit talks. The exit of State Secretary Tillerson, one of the dovish national security and diplomatic officials favoring engagement with North Korea, came two months before the holding of North Korea-U.S. summit talks. 

The U.S. Congress’s hearing on the confirmation of State Secretary-designate Pompeo, who is one of the more hawkish officials dealing with North Koran affairs, is expected to take place in April. 

U.S. President Trump agreed to accept an invitation from North Korean leader Kim to hold summit talks, but their views on denuclearization may be a stumbling block for breakthroughs in North Korea-U.S. ties, experts said.

The U.S. position on denuclearization is a complete, verifiable and irreversible end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Skepticism over the possible breakthroughs of North Korea-U.S. summit talks has prevailed as North Korea has yet to make it clear what it means when it said it is willing to denuclearize. 

North Korean leader Kim offered an olive branch to South Korea in his New Year’s address. High-level inter-Korean talks led to North Korea’s participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

South and North Korea entered the Olympic Stadium under the Unification Flag during the opening ceremony in what was dubbed an “Olympic detente” and fielded a unified women’s ice hockey team. 

North Korea dispatched a high-level delegation, led by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong, his special envoy, an athletic team, a cheerleading group, and a performance troupe during the Olympiad. Kim Yo-jong delivered an invitation to President Moon to Pyongyang for summit talks at a meeting with Cheong Wa Dae. 

In return, President Moon dispatched Presidential National Security Chief Chung and NIS Chief Suh as special envoys to North Korea on March 5, who met with North Korea leader Kim and agreed to hold inter-Korean summit talks. The envoys returned home with an invitation from North Korea leader Kim to U.S. President Trump for summit talks.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with National Security Chief Chung Eui-yong, a special envoy to President Moon during their talks in North Korea on March 5. (Photos on the courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae)

San Francisco Meetings among South Korean, U.S. and Japanese Presidential Aides

Korean Presidential National Security Chief Chung met with U.S. National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and their Japanese counterpart Shotaro Yachi in San Francisco the United States, on March 17 and 18 to discuss North Korea issues,, Cheong Wa Dae said. 

They also had similar meetings last August and this past January there. The three meetings, which had been known so far, took place shortly following summit conservations between President Moon and President Trump. 

The three presidential aides assembled for the meetings in San Francisco following Korean-U.S. summit telephone conservations. San Francisco was a more comfortable place for them to exchanges views since the U.S. city is closer to Korea and Japan, and it has less risks of explosure to media outlets, a source familiar to the matter said. 

The three discussed on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and summit talks between South and North Korea and between North Korea and the United States, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Ui-gyeom said. The latest meeting of the three presidential aides from the three countries took place shortly after President Moon talked with U.S. President Trump over the phone on March 16. Korean Presidential National Security Adviser Chung made a trip of Washington from March 8 to March 11 and had a meeting with President Trump to deliver a message from North Korean leader Kim. Chung flied to San Francisco to meet with U.S. National Security Adviser McMaster shortly following the Korea-U.S. summit call. 

During the latest meeting, Chung and McMaster appeared to touch on a plan to hold South Korean-U.S. summit talks prior to inter-Korean and North Korean-U.S. summit talks, slated for April and May, respectively. A possibility of holding summit talks among South Korea, the United States and Japan was also discussed, reports said. 

The meetings in San Francisco primarily focused on consultations between South Korea and the United States, a Cheong Wa Dae source said. Chung and McMaster shared the view that the successful holding of inter-Korean and North Korean-U.S. summit talks are essential to ensure peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in Northeast Asia and discussed ways of promoting closer collaboration between South Korea and the United States, the source said. 

The previous two meetings in San Francisco were not known, but the latest and third meeting was revealed to the media by Cheong Wa Dae. The three presidential aides how to counter North Korea’s provocations during the meeting in San Francisco last Aug. 26. At that time, North Korea fired inter-continental ballistic missiles twice and President Trump alluded to “fire and fury” and military options.  

The second meeting in San Francisco took place shortly after South and North Korea held higher-level inter-Korean talks and decided on the latter’s participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. 

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