Good Words from DPRK, but Actions Will Be Harder

March 9, 2018
Joshua Pollack

The following is an excerpt of an op/ed published in the NY Daily News.

It’s hard to expect talks to start if the price of admission is to concede the outcome up front, but that has been the idea. On Feb. 26, the day before Yun’s decision became known, President Trump had publicly swatted away a South Korean statement that the North was now willing to negotiate with Washington, saying, “We want to talk only under the right conditions.”

The credit goes to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea for realizing how to bring about those conditions. On March 1, while preparing to send a high-level delegation to Pyongyang, he spoke on the phone with President Trump for half an hour.

The process was initially less than smooth. Trump, whose recall can be less than exact, managed to turn that conversation into a chat with the North Koreans. He told the audience at the annual Gridiron Club dinner on March 3rd that the North “called a couple of days ago,” saying they “would like to talk.” By his own account, Trump replied, “So would we, but you have to denuke, you have to denuke.”

North Korea promptly shot back, denouncing the American position as “preposterous,” and declaring that they had never and would never accept preconditions for talks.

So it was jarring when just three days later, this Tuesday, the South Korean group returned to Seoul and addressed the news media. President Moon’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong told reporters that the North had “clearly affirmed its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and — as stated before — was willing to hold talks with the United States. Furthermore, it would not test missiles or nuclear weapons during those talks.

Continue reading at the NY Daily News.

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