North Korea Still Hasn't Confirmed Any Summit

No public statements yet from Pyongyang amid conflicting US statements on conditions
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2018 7:57 AM CDT
North Korea Still Hasn't Confirmed Any Summit
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade in Pyongyang, North Korea.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

President Trump last week made the surprise announcement that he would meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, but the BBC takes note of one thing noticeably missing in the days since: confirmation from Pyongyang. Yes, the idea for the meeting reportedly came from Kim himself, and was delivered by South Korean envoys visiting the US, but the North still has not made any public utterance about a summit. "We have not seen nor received an official response from the North Korean regime regarding the North Korea-US summit," says a spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of Unification. "I feel they're approaching this matter with caution and they need time to organize their stance."

  • Ambiguity: Confusion remains over whether the North has agreed to concessions ahead of the meeting. The Guardian takes note of a difference in semantics: On Sunday, deputy White House spokesperson Rah Shah said the meeting was taking place because Kim made a "commitment to denuclearization," while CIA chief Mike Pompeo said Kim had agreed only "to have a conversation about denuclearization."

  • Lost in translation? Author and journalist Mike Chinoy tells CNN that it's "very odd" the North has said nothing and floats the possibility that the South Korean envoys didn't accurately convey Kim's words or meaning. "Don't count your summits until they hatch," he warns. A former official in the George W. Bush administration voiced a similar concern to Politico. Because the envoys delivered an "oral message," not a letter, there's room for all kinds of misinterpretation, says Eric Edalman.
  • Peace treaty: Assuming the meeting takes place, one South Korean newspaper (Dong-A-Ilbo) reports that Kim would likely raise the idea of signing a formal peace treaty to end the 60-year-old war with South Korea, which could entail the withdrawal of US troops and perhaps a US embassy in Pyongyang. One hitch: "The US wants a peace treaty at the end of the denuclearization process, while for the North, it’s the precondition for its denuclearization," a South Korea professor tells Bloomberg.
  • Trump himself: The president didn't offer clarity on the subject of any preconditions in a speech over the weekend. "They are thinking about that," he said of denuclearization. "Who knows what's going to happen?" Trump also urged his supporters at the Pennsylvania rally to stop booing Kim's name, saying "for now we have to be very nice" to him. “I may leave fast or we may sit down and make the greatest deal for the world."
  • The location: So where would any such meeting take place? The New York Times runs through the pros and cons of various possibilities, from the Korean DMZ (the "most promising") to Washington to Mongolia.
  • China, Japan: The South Korean envoys who visited the US will be meeting with top leaders in China and Japan this week to discuss the developments and try to allay any concerns, reports Reuters.
  • Tougher than Iran: FiveThirtyEight notes that Trump has been critical of former President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, and the analysis finds that North Korea is in much better bargaining position than Tehran ever was. What's more, Trump is threatening to renege on the Iran deal, "suggesting that the U.S. cannot be trusted to follow through on its promises across governments."
(More North Korea stories.)

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