Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Japan, South Korea Agree To Maintain 'Maximum Pressure' On North Korea: Minister

Japan, South Korea Agree To Maintain 'Maximum Pressure' On North Korea: Minister

News of the planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent shockwaves around the globe. (Panmunjom was where the North's representatives at the postwar peace talks dragged out higher and higher stools so that they did not lose face by being dwarfed by the South Koreans and Americans, recalling the King's "Your head is higher than mine!" in Anna and the King of Siam.) Kim Jong-il, son of North Korea's Kim Il-sung, who was attending the conference, presented the incident as an example of American aggression.

"We fully expect that it will".

But Trump also appears to have earned what seem like major concessions from Kim, and it all comes down to the USA president's credibility as a madman.

On Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the meeting wouldn't take place "until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea".

While Vice President Mike Pence startled Koreans with his lack of manners and hard line at the Olympics, President Moon responded positively, dispatching envoys to North Korea to continue the talks and begin to arrange a summit. Others say the United States and North Korea may have entirely different expectations of the meeting.

"I think North Korea needs time to organize their position and is being careful and cautious in approaching regarding the summit", said Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyn. Trump then agreed to meet Kim by the end of May, he said.

The announcement in the White House garden to hold the meeting was less than 24 hours after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said the US "is still far from negotiating" with Pyongyang.

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The same officials then carried to Washington a verbal message of Kim's willingness to meet Trump, which the USA president is said to have immediately accepted. At that meeting, Kim stunned the diplomats by saying that he was open to talking with the Americans about his nuclear program, willing to suspend nuclear and missile testing to open the way for talks without insisting that the USA and South Korea suspend their joint military exercises that have always been a source of tension.

"We need to make sure that we can inform the president of the history of deceit of this regime, where they have committed to things in the agreed framework and that subsequently, we need to make sure that we go into this discussion understanding those risks", he said. Kim no doubt noticed when the USA and its allies took out Libya's Muammar Gaddafi after he got rid of his nuclear weapons. -South Korean military exercises.

The follow up visit of the high-level delegation from Seoul to Pyongyang for talks with the North Korean leader was certainly another vital link in the chain of events that finally culminated in the broad agreement to hold a summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. But not quite. And in this hypercompetitive society, young South Koreans may often prioritize their own futures over what's happening to the north.

The South Korean officials who met Kim travelled to Washington last week to relay his message and visited China on Monday to brief President Xi Jinping, who urged patience. The South Korean security adviser also dined with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday evening.

In Beijing on Monday, Xi told Chung there was an important opportunity for talks. North Korea has said that for it to give up nuclear weapons, the safety of its regime must be guaranteed and the military threat against it must be removed.

In Geneva, the United Nations investigator on North Korea told the world body's Human Rights Council that any progress in the nuclear and security dialogue must be accompanied by talks on human rights violations, including political prison camps. What was not predictable and has always intrigued me is why several American soldiers defected to North Korea after the war. The State Department's top diplomat in charge of North Korea policy, Joseph Yun, recently retired.

Trump had derided the North Korean leader as a "maniac", referred to him as "little rocket man" and threatened in a speech to the United Nations past year to "totally destroy" Kim's country of 26 million people if it attacked the United States or one of its allies.

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