U.S. President Donald Trump said before a Cabinet meeting Monday that “We’ll be meeting with them (Kim Jong Un) sometime in May or early June” and “hopefully we’ll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea.” “I think there’ll be great respect paid by both parties,” he also said. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un also made a profound analysis and appraisal of the development of inter-Korean ties and the prospect of North Korea-U.S. dialogue at a meeting of the ruling party’s Politburo, the country’s official KCNA news agency reported Tuesday.
This is the first time that President Trump directly mentioned the ongoing preparation for the talk with Kim and the possible timing of the meeting. As if they have planned in advance, Kim also mentioned a North Korea-U.S. dialogue at a meeting of the party’s top decision making body. The confirmation of the two leaders implies that Pyongyang and Washington have seen considerable progress in the under-the-table negotiation on the timing, location, and agendas of the upcoming talk, and both the exact date and location of the meeting may soon be announced.
Now what is most important is North Korea’s plan to implement denuclearization. The success of the talk rests on whether the parties can come up with a timetable that leads to the swift and complete denuclearization of North Korea, and this plan will entail compensation measures from the United States including its promise to guarantee the security of the Kim regime and lift sanctions. North Korea has insisted that a phased, concurrent measure be in place. The country will demand to be rewarded at every step from freeze to disabling, report, inspection and disposal of its nuclear arsenal. In order to avoid the failures of the past, steps towards denuclearization should be simplified and implementation should be completed in a speedy manner. President Trump, ahead of the off-year election later this year and the presidential election of 2020, will certainly want a fast-moving timetable, too.
Still, verification should be made thoroughly. As a token of reassurance, Pyongyang should make a promise that it will allow unexpected, close inspections of its facilities to take place. In tandem with this, Washington can remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, build a liaison office and even establish diplomatic relations while building a peace regime through a peace agreement and a regional security consultative body. It is too early to be overly optimistic that our journey towards this goal will be easy and trouble-free. However, we have at least passed the starting line by acknowledging each other and beginning to build trust.