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Trump Planning Next Steps in North Korea Dialogue

April 1, 2019 (EIRNS)—South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha was in Washington last week, meeting with Mike Pompeo on March 29, Hankyoreh reports, while Kim Hyun-chong, second deputy chief of South Korea’s National Security Office, arrived in the U.S. on March 30 and plans to meet with Deputy National Security Advisor Charles Kupperman today. These meetings are preparing for the South Korea-U.S. summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in coming up on April 11 in Washington.

According to Hankyoreh, a pro-government Seoul newspaper:

“Seoul is aiming for an overarching framework consisting of a comprehensive agreement and step-by-step implementation. Under this vision, North Korea and the U.S. would first agree on how they define denuclearization, what the final stage will look like and how they will get there, and then move toward that goal in stages along with corresponding measures from the U.S.”

The idea is that the U.S. and North Korea would agree on a final overall agreement before discussion of the steps to get there. What Trump rejected at the Hanoi Summit was a partial agreement, with some sanctions lifted for some nuclear facilities taken down, but without an overall agreement on the final outcome.

Both North and South Korea are anxious to resume the Kaesong Complex operations and the Mt. Kumgang tourism arrangements. Hankyoreh reports:

“On March 29, a high-ranking official in the South Korean government told reporters that the U.S. fully understands the necessity of continuing to implement inter-Korean agreements as well as South Korea’s determination to do so. This official added that the issues of the Kaesong Complex and tourism to Mt. Kumgang had been comprehensively discussed during Kang and Pompeo’s meeting but that they didn’t get into the specifics.”

Also under discussion is a “snapback clause,” with partial sanction relief but an understanding that they would be restored if progress is delayed. Hankyoreh wrote:

“North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui recently referred to the snapback, saying that Trump had been open to the idea during the Hanoi summit.... Seoul is also stressing the need for Kim [Jong Un] and Trump to maintain their top-down approach as they have thus far in the North Korea-U.S. dialogue”

—i.e., to keep Trump directly running the dialogue, to “minimize the threat posed by the growing influence of hardliners inside the U.S. administration.” The article referred to Trump’s reversal of the new sanctions announced by the Treasury Department and backed by National Security Advisor John Bolton last week.

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