SEOUL, March 19 (UPI) — South Korea’s top diplomat says there will be no rewards for North Korea for holding talks with Seoul and Washington.
In an interview with CBS on Sunday, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said South Korea and the United States haven’t offered the regime anything and they have “made it clear” that they will “engage but there will be no reward for dialogue.”
Kang indicated the North is likely to negotiate with the relative strength of its nuclear and missile program, amid its financial woes and its isolation from the global economy.
“I think that’s probably what goes into the North Korean calculation of coming out to dialogue at this point,” Kang said. “But again, its strength [is] on the side of its nuclear missiles program. On the side of the economy very, very weak and increasingly so. The art of diplomacy and negotiation is what this boils down to.”
Regarding U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision that he would accept North Korean leader Kim Jong Un‘s invitation for talks on denuclearization, Kang said it was a surprising move and it clearly demonstrated his will and determination to resolve the North’s nuclear issue once and for all.
Also, the minister said Kim had, in effect, “given his word” on denuclearization when the South asked the North to convey its commitment.
Asked if the South can trust the North Korean leader, she replied that it’s not a matter of trust.
“It’s a matter of discussing, and pressing for action. And once you see those actions, then you move forward further,” she said.
Kang said there is now a channel of communication between the two Koreas with back and forth messages but the North Korean leader would need some time to prepare for talks and come out with “some public messaging.”
Meanwhile, the national security chiefs of South Korea, the United States and Japan reaffirmed their commitment to the complete denuclearization of North Korea, Seoul’s presidential office said Monday.
Presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters that South Korea’s National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong and his U.S. and Japanese counterparts H.R. McMaster and Shotaro Yachi held talks on Saturday and Sunday in San Francisco.
The three officials agreed that they would not repeat the mistakes of the past and decided to continue their close cooperation, ahead of the inter-Korean summit in April and a subsequent summit between the North and the U.S. the following month, Yonhap reported.