North Korea said Friday it wants President Donald Trump to make a “wise option and bold decision” to produce a breakthrough in stalled nuclear diplomacy, in an escalation of pressure on the U.S. ahead of an expected resumption of talks.
The statement by Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan came days after Trump said another meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “could happen soon” without elaborating.
Kim Kye Gwan says he doubts another summit could make any breakthrough because of what he describes as prevailing opinions in Washington that North Korea must first disarm before getting major concessions and that U.S.-led sanctions brought the North to a negotiating table.
He accused the U.S. of not acting to implement a joint statement issued after the first summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore last year. He said North Korea, for its part, made “sincere efforts” to build mutual trust and carry out the Singapore statement, citing the repatriation of three American detainees and U.S. war remains.
Placing hope in Trump
“But I came to know that President Trump is different from his predecessors in political sense and decision while watching his approach to the DPRK, so I would like to place my hope on President Trump’s wise option and bold decision,” Kim Kye Gwan said, using the abbreviation of his country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“I and the DPRK Foreign Ministry will follow the future moves of the U.S.,” he added.
Kim, in his mid-70s, is a veteran diplomat who led the North Korean delegation at much of the now-dormant six-nation nuclear disarmament talks held in Beijing in 2003-2008.
North Korea entered talks with the United States last year saying it is willing to negotiate away its advancing nuclear arsenal in exchange of U.S. security guarantee and sanctions relief. The North wants a slow, step-by-step disarmament process, in which each of its denuclearization step is matched by a corresponding U.S. reward. The United States says sanctions on North Korea will remain in place until the country takes significant steps toward denuclearization.
During the Singapore summit, Kim Jong Un promised to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula without providing any timetable or roadmap for disarmament steps. In Singapore, Kim and Trump also agreed to establish new bilateral relations and build a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Talks broke down in Hanoi
They met again in Vietnam in February for a second summit. But that meeting abruptly fell apart after Trump rejected Kim’s request for extensive relief of sanctions in return for dismantling his main nuclear complex, a limited denuclearization step. The two leaders held a brief, impromptu meeting at the Korean border in late June, and agreed to restart talks.
Last week, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said working-level nuclear talks with the United States could resume in a few weeks. But it said discussions of North Korea’s denuclearization will only be possible when “threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our development are clearly removed beyond all doubt.”