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N. Korea should take part in talks with sincerity

Posted January. 08, 2018 08:41,   

Updated January. 08, 2018 09:31


North Korea has sent a list of its delegation for a high-level meeting scheduled for Tuesday, which will be led by Ri Son Gwon, head of the North’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification. The notification came a day after Seoul informed Pyongyang that South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyon will head its delegation on Saturday. With the delegation from both sides, the first official dialogue between the two Koreas in over two years is set to proceed as planned. U.S. President Donald Trump also showed support for the inter-Korean talks, by saying that he is “behind that (dialogue) 100%.”

The primary goal of Tuesday’s meeting is to ensure the safety of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics by discouraging the North from carrying out any provocations during the Olympic period. Successful hosting of a peaceful Olympics with the participation of Pyongyang is a desirable outcome, and it will be even better if the North’s participation can lead to the improved inter-Korean relations and the resumption of North Korea-U.S. talks. However, Pyongyang’s hidden intention may be considerably different from such a scenario. It is likely that the rouge regime aims to buy some time pretending to talk with the South while expediting its development of nuclear weapons in a bid to later demand to be recognized as a nuclear state. Also, North Korea’s willingness to resume dialogue is highly likely to be the regime’s strategic tactic in accordance with its timetable to finalize the technology to develop Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM).

Though aware of such intentions of North Korea, the United States has expressed full support for the inter-Korean dialogue. It was indeed a dilemma for Washington, which has set this March as the deadline of resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis, to decide on whether it should support or oppose the talk. Still, it chose to bet on the long-awaited talk between the two Koreas, apparently reasoning that Pyongyang’s probable refraining from carrying out missile launches or nuclear tests during the Olympics may ultimately lead to the resumption of North Korea-U.S. dialogue.

Despite its high hopes, the United States will not be sitting idle if the inter-Korean talks seem to be only buying time for the North or in danger of falling apart due to the North’s unreasonable demands. President Trump’s recent saying that he would be willing to talk on the phone to Kim Jong Un but only if certain conditions are met has been a reminder for the South Korean government of our main objective: denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. In addition to inviting North Korean athletes to Pyeongchang, the South Korean government should be able to persuade the North into promising to abandon its nuclear and missile ambitions.