Kim to Trump: Let’s Make a Deal
Washington got just what it wanted from the pressure campaign. Now what?
Keith Johnson, Dan De Luce | March 6, 2018, 5:22 PM
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, shaking hands with South Korean envoy Chung Eui-yong in Pyongyang on March 5. (AFP/KCNA via KNS/Getty Images)
North Korea’s surprising offer Tuesday to hold talks with the United States, holding out the eventual prospect of abandoning its nuclear weapons, throws the diplomatic ball dramatically back into Washington’s court.
While the overture is a seeming triumph of the “sunshine” diplomacy of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the Trump administration’s increased pressure, the big question remains whether the White House is willing or able to grab the opportunity.
“The Trump administration has been all about applying maximum pressure, with the whole purpose to bring North Korea back to the table to talk about denuclearization,” says Jenny Town, assistant director of the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
“Kim has said, ‘Yeah, we can talk about that.’ So now what? This is more a test of how serious the Trump administration is, rather than Pyongyang.”
After a landmark meeting with senior South Korean officials Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he’d be open to negotiations with the United States to discuss normalizing relations, including a willingness to discuss the country’s controversial nuclear program. Pyongyang said it wouldn’t need nuclear weapons if its security is guaranteed, and offered to freeze nuclear and missile tests during the talks. The two Korean leaders will meet next month to lay the groundwork for a possible diplomatic solution to an impasse that has raised fears of a devastating conventional or even nuclear war in East Asia.
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