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Narrowing differences.

Relevant parties remain apart on denuclearization

The U.S. and North Korea are reportedly close to finalizing the details of their summit, including the date and venue.

Both sides confirmed this week the meeting will take place soon. "We'll be meeting with them sometime in May or early June and I think there will be great respect paid by both parties, and hopefully we'll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea," U.S. President Donald Trump said during a Cabinet meeting Monday. "Hopefully, it will be a relationship that's much different than it's been for many, many years."

President Trump's comments came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un mentioned for the first time the upcoming summits with South Korea and the U.S. North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim assessed the development of inter-Korean relations as well as the prospect of dialogue with Washington during a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. Kim reportedly mentioned the latest developments, including the planned summit with President Moon Jae-in on April 27.

It is a good sign that both the U.S. and North Korea are showing a willingness to start dialogue with what will be the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit. But the two sides remain wide apart on the issue of denuclearization.

In previous diplomatic settings with South Korea and China, the North Korean leader said he is willing to discuss the issue, but there are differing positions on how to achieve denuclearization.

The North Korean leader wants a "phased and simultaneous" formula toward scrapping its nuclear program, seeking rewards for each step it takes. However, the U.S. is against such an approach, which has failed in the past, and has been firm about the principle of pursuing complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. Trump may aim to denuclearize the North quickly. According to some local media reports, Trump may demand North Korea's denuclearization over six months or a year from the meeting.

The success of the U.S-North Korea summit depends on how much the two countries narrow their differences on denuclearization. Otherwise, the security situation on the Korean Peninsula could worsen, particularly with hawkish figures such as new National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo dominating the decision process.

The two sides should refrain from making unacceptable demands and be open to listening to each other and being flexible in their negotiations, with the common goal of achieving lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

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Publication:The Korea Times News (Seoul, Korea)
Date:Apr 12, 2018
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