President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to visit Washington for talks with U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday (local time) to discuss ways to restart denuclearization negotiations with North Korea. Seoul’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has said that the sanctions on Pyongyang should be maintained. The government apparently plans to persuade Washington to focus on an “early harvest,” which would be earned when North Korea takes initial steps to denuclearize itself including the dismantlement of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities and is rewarded by corresponding measures.
Kim Hyun-chong, a deputy director of the National Security Office (NSO) at Cheong Wa Dae, said Tuesday that President Moon and First Lady Kim Jung-sook will officially head to Washington on Wednesday for a two-day visit upon the invitation of President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. The two leaders’ seventh meeting comes in about four months after the last summit on Nov. 30.
A Cheong Wa Dae official has stressed that the two countries are on the same page regarding the “end state” of North Korea’s denuclearization and a need for the roadmap to achieve the goal. The “early harvest” on which Seoul and Washington are not seeing eye to eye will be discussed at the upcoming summit, the official said when asked. Washington demanded at the Hanoi summit that Pyongyang take its nuclear weapons out of the country, but Cheong Wa Dae has argued that a resumption of tour programs to Mount Kumgang or the Kaesong Industrial Complex is necessary to get the North to take actions toward denuclearization.
Still, the South Korean official clearly said that “the top-down approach and the framework of sanctions should be maintained,” which is in line with President Moon’s remarks on Monday that the inter-Korean ties need to keep pace with the U.S.-North Korea relationship. “I will do my utmost for an early resumption of North Korea-U.S. talks,” Moon said in Monday’s Cabinet meeting.
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