South Korean Director of National Security Suh Hoon reportedly told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his 2+2 visit to Seoul last month that China and North Korea are preparing to hold a summit. On a separate occasion during the secretary’s visit, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong reportedly told Blinken that China is an “indispensable” party in the peace process of the Korean Peninsula. It seems that South Korea’s highest-ranking officials of security and foreign affairs were trying to rekindle the possibility of a summit between the U.S. and North Korea by mentioning a China-North Korea summit in preparation and emphasized the roles of China in the process. "While we may be watching closely the prospect and development of the summit preparation between China and DPRK in the future, the U.S.'s willingness to engage with DPRK at a high level is very weak at the moment,” a U.S. official who is familiar with the U.S.-ROK engagement, including the 2+2 talks, said.
As Director Suh told Secretary Blinken during his visit to Seoul on March 17 and 18 that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is preparing to hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he added that this can be a “precursor” to North Korea’s attempt to engage with the U.S. It seems that the director was trying to gauge the possibility for a U.S.-North Korea summit by reminding the secretary of the precedence that two summits were held between China and North Korea in March and May 2018 before the U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore in June 2018.
"China may be an important factor in the North Korea nuclear talks, but it is hard to see them as a positive player in negotiations especially during this time of aggression by China,” said the U.S. official familiar with the contents of Blinken’s conversations with Suh and Jung.
워싱턴=김정안 특파원 firstname.lastname@example.org