Posted November. 17, 2017 07:42,
Updated November. 17, 2017 09:19
U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed not to accept the so-called “freeze for freeze” agreement proposed as a way to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. Announcing the result of his recent trips to Asia including South Korea, Japan and China, Trump said Xi recognized that “a nuclear North Korea is a grave threat to China,” suggesting that Beijing had given up its proposal of the “freeze for freeze” resolution. However, China’s Foreign Ministry denied Trump’s remark, saying, “Suspension-for-suspension is the most realistic, viable and reasonable solution in the current situation.”
It has turned out that Trump’s claim of Xi’s agreement on the unacceptability of the “freeze for freeze” proposal was an exaggeration made by the U.S. president while boasting the results of his Asia trips. What is important, however, is that Washington has made it clear it will not agree to the “freeze for freeze” proposal and is determined to have Pyongyang give up its nuclear development. Therefore, Beijing would find it difficult to stick to the “freeze for freeze” proposal. It would also put a brake on the South Korean government’s proposal of a step-by-step resolution for seeking Pyongyang’s nuclear freeze before abandonment. President Moon Jae-in said recently that Seoul was willing to discuss the issue with an open mind to all suggestions, indicating that he was willing to accept the “freeze for freeze” proposal.
It is noteworthy that Trump’s announcement did not include the issue of putting North Korea back on the U.S. “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list. The issue drew great attention after Trump said he would make a “major announcement.” The White House also said a decision would be made toward the end of his Asia tour. However, he did not mention it when he made the announcement. Still, Washington can bring up the card again, as Trump never said he would not put Pyongyang back on the “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list. It is Trump’s way of dealing with North Korea by warning Pyongyang against the false hope of a “freeze for freeze” resolution while holding on to the useful card for pressures.
Such a dual approach is linked with the delicate changes in the situation. Song Tao, who heads the ruling Communist Party of China’s external affairs department, will visit North Korea on Friday to meet with North Korean leadership, including supreme leader Kim Jong Un. Song is expected to explain Beijing’s position that it is inevitable to implement sanctions on the North that could possibly include a halt to oil supply. Kim Jong Un does not much time to make a choice. If he refuses to return to the negotiating table now, he would have no choice but to face eternal isolation from the international community.