South Korea: Too early to be optimistic about a denuclearised North

RSTV Bureau
Pyongyang  : In this Monday, March 5, 2018 photo, provided by the North Korean government on March 6, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, front right, shakes hands with South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong after Chung gave Kim the letter from South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. AP/PTI Photo

Pyongyang : In this Monday, March 5, 2018 photo, provided by the North Korean government on March 6, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, front right, shakes hands with South Korean National Security Director Chung Eui-yong after Chung gave Kim the letter from South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: “KCNA” which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. AP/PTI Photo

A day after North Korea expressed willingness to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said it was “too early to be optimistic” about the North’s offer to discuss denuclearisation with the United States.

“We are only at the starting line,” Moon told political party leaders after his envoys revealed Kim Jong Un’s offer following their return from a historic trip to Pyongyang.

He denied allegations of a behind-the-scenes agreement with Pyongyang in return for it coming to the negotiating table.

“There has been no backroom deal whatsoever with the North,” Moon was quoted as saying by a spokesman of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party.

“There will be no such a thing as a gift to the North,” Moon added.

The South Korean leader stressed the importance of maintaining close co-operation with the US, its security guarantor, adding: “I think denuclearisation talks will become feasible only when South Korea and the US take common positions” on the issue.

“Inter-Korean talks won’t be enough to achieve peace,” he added.

Meanwhile, US said that it was determined to achieve the goal of a de-nuclearised Korean Peninsula.

“We remain determined to achieve a de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” US President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House.

“I think that’s been a factor, but the sanctions have been very, very strong, and very biting. And we don’t want that to happen, so I really believe they are sincere. I hope they’re sincere. We’re going to soon find out,” said the US President when he was asked if he thinks that North Korea was sincere this time.

Earlier in the day, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that the North Koreans seem to be acting positively.

“I think that their statement and the statements coming out of South Korea and North Korea have been very positive. That would be a great thing for the world. A great thing for the world. So we’ll see how it all comes about,” Trump added.

Trump did not give a definite answer when asked if he would be willing to meet the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“We’ll see what happens. Let’s see what happens,” he said.

On Tuesday, the two Koreas decided to to hold a historic summit next month in the Demilitarized Zone after Pyongyang expressed willingness to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees.

The North is open to “frank” talks with the United States on denuclearisation and would suspend missile and nuclear tests while dialogue was under way, the South’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said after returning from a meeting in Pyongyang with leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea is subject to multiple rounds of UN Security Council sanctions over its atomic and ballistic missile programmes, and has long insisted that its “treasured sword” is not up for negotiation. But it is willing to abandon the programmes if its national security — and that of its leadership — is guaranteed, Chung had explained.

(With inputs from agencies)