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Seoul should prevent ‘Korea passing’ in event of Washington-Pyongyang talks

Seoul should prevent ‘Korea passing’ in event of Washington-Pyongyang talks

Posted August. 24, 2017 08:50,   

Updated August. 24, 2017 08:54


During the Foreign Affairs Ministry's policy briefing to President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday, the president stressed that South Korea should take the leadership in addressing Korean Peninsula issues as the first party. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha underlined the importance of a “watertight” alliance with the United States in addressing all issues involving North Korea and pledged to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. She also vowed to seek a “turning point” in efforts to establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. However, the situation is not so easy.

The U.S. Department of Treasury on Tuesday identified for new sanctions 10 entities and six individuals who aided North Korea’s nuclear development program, including five Chinese companies, one Russian company, one Chinese individual, and four Russian individuals – a warning message to Beijing and Moscow that have been lukewarm in sanctioning Pyongyang. On the same day, U.S. President Donald Trump said that North Korea leader Kim Jong Un was “starting to respect” the United States.

"And maybe, probably not, but maybe something positive can come about,” Trump said, strongly suggesting a possible détente between Washington and Pyongyang. Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also said, “Perhaps we’re seeing our pathway to sometime in the near future of having some dialogue.” It could be possible that the United States, which has been holding on to “maximum pressure” on the North, could make an about-face to “maximum engagement” for talks with Pyongyang.

Washington is shaking Pyongyang with a stick and a carrot. Pyongyang is also sending various signals to Seoul and Washington, going between threats and appeasement. North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper disclosed that Pyongyang was developing the “Pukguksong-3,” a new submarine-launched ballistic missile following the development of the “Pukguksong-1.” South Korea should also treat the North by playing various cards including both sanctions and dialogue. The proposed redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons is one of the cards. However, Chung Eui-yong, the head of South Korea’s National Security Office at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, flatly denied the possibility, saying that Seoul was “not considering tactical nukes deployment at all.” The North Korean nuclear issue is too serious and urgent to tackle with the unilateral approach of dialogue.