Senior North Korean officials meeting with South Korean government representatives during the Olympic Games said they were willing to talk with the U.S. to defuse the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
The White House responded by saying any talks with North Korea must come with the understanding that they will lead to an end to their nuclear program.
The North Korean delegation, in Pyeongchang for the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics, met at an undisclosed location with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and expressed a willingness to meet with the United States, Moon’s office said in a statement.
The Pyongyang delegation said developments in relations between the two Koreas and between North Korea and the United States should go hand in hand, according to the statement.
The Olympics gave a boost to recent engagement between the two Koreas after more than a year of sharply rising tensions over the North’s missile program and its sixth and largest nuclear test in defiance of U.N. sanctions.
The United States announced on Friday it was imposing its largest package of sanctions aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs.
On Sunday, North Korean state media accused the United States of provoking confrontation on the Korean peninsula with the sanctions.
This is a dead end, of course, unless you think either Kim Jong-un or President Trump is a liar. Kim has said in no uncertain terms that the North Korean nuclear program is non-negotiable. And Trump has made it clear that there will be no talks unless the nuclear program is on the table.
The North Koreans knew that when they made the offer. The U.S. knows North Korea knew that when they made the offer. Unless there is a significant and humiliating climbdown by one side or the other, you can chalk this up as another propaganda ploy by Kim.
He’s already successfully driven a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea, whose people crave a rapprochement with the North. President Moon is extremely unlikely now to go along with a U.S. strike on the North’s nuclear infrastructure — not as long as the “Spirit of the Olympics” can be milked by Kim. Moon is deluding himself if he thinks Kim wants anything from him except to check Trump’s plans to take out his nukes.
How long will this “Spirit of the Olympics” last between the two Koreas? It will last exactly as long as Kim needs it to last before he moves on to his next propaganda project.