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U.S.-S. Korea summit, the North’s Supreme People’s Assembly to be held Thursday

U.S.-S. Korea summit, the North’s Supreme People’s Assembly to be held Thursday

Posted April. 08, 2019 07:38,   

Updated April. 08, 2019 07:38


Heads of the two Koreas and the U.S. are back to work 42 days after the “‘Hanoi No Deal.” This Thursday is a big day for all three countries as both the South Korea-U.S. summit and North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly are to be held on that day. The two events will determine the direction of denuclearization talks this year. Responses of U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who left Hanoi without tangible achievements would be essential to this issue.

South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae devised new strategies such as the “good enough deal” (enough level of agreements between the North and the U.S.) and “early harvest” after the breakdown of the Hanoi summit and its goal in the coming summit is to confirm‎ Trump’s willingness to support the efforts. These strategies aim to make at least small progresses in denuclearization which is halted as Pyongyang opposed to the “big deal” that exchanges complete denuclearization with alleviation of sanctions.

But it is still difficult to know whether Washington would agree with these strategies. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday (local time) in an interview with CBS that the administration remains "incredibly clear" that economic sanctions on the North "will not be lifted until our ultimate objective is achieved." But he was vague when asked if Washington would say “no” to the South Korean government that wishes to build inter-Korean economic cooperation saying, “I talk to my South Korean counterpart a lot. She's a delightful, capable minister for their country.”

Instead, he made it clear that the White House is keeping a close eye on Pyongyang, calling April 11 an “important day.” Pyongyang will hold the first meeting of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly on Thursday. “We'll watch very closely what he says,” Pompeo said. “I do hope that he will share his sentiment, his sentiment that says: I believe, as the leader of North Korea, I believe the right thing to do is for us to engage with the United States to denuclearize our country.” This means the U.S. would wait for Kim to clearly state his willingness to denuclearize and it would not lift any sanctions if Kim only focuses on self-rehabilitation and independence rather than denuclearization.

Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com · Na-Ri Shin journari@donga.com