N. Korean leader Kim Jong-un is “committed to denuclearization,” Chung Eui-yong, South Korean security advisor, said on Thursday. Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Eui-yong said, “Kim [Jong-un] pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests.” He added that Kim “understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue.” The N. Korean leader expressed his “eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,” he said.
Eui-yong thanked President Trump and his “close friend [National Security Advisor] General McMaster” for their efforts. “I explained to President Trump that his leadership and his maximum pressure policy together with international solidarity brought us to this juncture.”
“President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization,” he said. The Republic of Korea, along with the United States, Japan, and other partners around the world “remain fully and resolutely committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
“Along with President Trump, we are optimistic about continuing a diplomatic process to test the possibility of a peaceful resolution,” he continued, adding that the S. Korea and its partners “stand together in insisting that we not repeat the mistakes of the past and that the pressure will continue until N. Korea matches its words with concrete action.”
Trump responded to the news on Twitter:
Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2018
Earlier this year, PJM’s Claudia Rosett warned about the Kim regime’s duplicitous behavior toward the international community:
And over the decades, to deflect international pressure, North Korea has mastered the art of bait-and-switch, engaging in talks and deals as one more means of enabling — not ending — its development of illicit weapons. The pattern is that North Korea every so often comes to the table, and in exchange for its promises of better behavior extracts concessions from the Free World — such as free food and fuel, diplomatic favors, the easing of whatever sanctions are in place — then cheats, walks away, and carries on building ever more powerful weapons of mass destruction. The accurate term for this is not diplomacy. It is extortion.
Rosett went on to describe previous failed efforts that resulted from Kim’s brash subterfuge:
Thus has North Korea over the years punctuated its advancing nuclear and missile programs with such episodes as President Bill Clinton, in 2000, welcoming a top-ranking North Korean military official for a 45-minute face-to-face presidential sitdown in the White House; a trip by former Secretary 0f State Madeleine Albright to Pyongyang that same year; or, in 2007, Chris Hill, President Bush’s chief negotiator for the Six-Party talks with North Korea, wining and dining North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York. And who can forget the festivities in 2008, when the U.S. forked over millions of dollars to North Korea for the basically irrelevant demolition of a cooling tower at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex? As you might have noticed, none of this glad-handing served to stop North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, with which it is now threatening to target the United States.
No announcement has been made about what, if any, preconditions, will be placed on the meeting. Three American hostages remain in N. Korean prisons. Calls for their release have thus far been ignored by the Kim Jong-un regime. PJM’s Bridget Johnson profiled the hostages in June:
Kim Dong Chul, a businessman and naturalized U.S. citizen who previously lived in Fairfax, Va., was arrested in North Korea’s special economic zone in October 2015 and accused of spying for the South Koreans, which Seoul denied. Kim, in his mid-60s, was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor.
Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-duk, was a professor at China’s Yanbian University of Science and Technology who had been visiting to teach at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology for a period of several weeks. Kim had also been a humanitarian aid worker in North Korea. He and his wife were arrested this April as they tried to fly out of the country; she was released while he was detained and accused of committing hostile acts. Like Bae and Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim is a Christian.
Kim Hak-Song was working in agricultural development at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, managing experimental research to address the country’s food shortage. He was arrested early last month.
Trump said on Tuesday that the N. Koreans are “sincere” in their willingness to halt nuclear tests if the U.S. agreed to talks.
“I think that they are sincere. And I think they’re sincere also because of the sanctions and what we’re doing with respect to North Korea, including the great help that we’ve been given from China,” Trump said at a news conference after meeting with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven of Sweden. Asked if he had any preconditions for talks, Trump said, “I don’t want to talk about it. We’re going to see what happens.”
Trump took a harder line on preconditions on Saturday at the Gridiron Dinner in Washington, D.C. “Now we are talking and they, by the way, called up a couple of days ago. They said that ‘We would like to talk.’ And I said, ‘So would we, but you have to denuke, you have to denuke,”‘ Mr. Trump told attendees at the dinner. “We will be meeting and we’ll see if anything positive happens.”
The North Korean Foreign Ministry called Trump’s demands that it denuclearize before any talks can occur “preposterous.”
“The U.S. is taking preposterous action by continuing to trumpet an insistence that it will not have dialogue unless a right condition is met and that it will keep watching if we have intention to abandon nuclear weapons and missiles and so on,” the foreign ministry said.
WATCH: Full remarks of South Korean security adviser Chung Eui-Yong: "Kim [Jong Un] pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests." https://t.co/R1pNb0btCG pic.twitter.com/DbLdAosam3
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 9, 2018
Follow me on Twitter @pbolyard