Author: Bill Sanderson
Posted on: NEW YORK POST | February 17th, 2018
The US and South Korea agree that despite the optimism generated by Olympic diplomacy, it’s too soon to talk with North Korea about curbing the North’s nuclear weapons program.
Speaking to reporters Saturday, South Korean president Moon Jae-in said he’s not ready to think about a summit meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
“There are high hopes for a North-South summit but I think it is a bit rushed,” South Korean president Moon said during a visit to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
A high-level delegation from the North — led by Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong — met with Moon in Seoul last week.
The North Koreans proposed a summit between Moon and Kim Jong-un in their capital, Pyongyang.
Though Moon said he’s not ready to meet Kim, he expressed hope that talks between the two Koreas will lead the North to talk to the US about eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula.
“The general consensus on the need for dialogue between the US and North Korea is gradually increasing,” Moon said.
“We are waiting for the current inter-Korean talks to lead to dialogue between the US and North Korea, and to denuclearization.”
International sanctions are having an impact on the economically-isolated North, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says in an interview to air Sunday on the CBS News program “60 Minutes.”
Tillerson said he hopes the sanctions lead to talks about the North’s nuclear program.
“We’re not using a carrot to convince them to talk. We’re using large sticks,” Tillerson told “60 Minutes.”
“And that is what they need to understand. This pressure campaign … is having its bite on North Korea.”
“My job as chief diplomat is ensure that the North Koreans know we keep our channels open …. I’m listening,” he said.
But Tillerson echoed Moon in saying it’s too soon to begin formal talks.
“I’m not sending a lot of messages back, because there’s nothing to say to them at this point,” Tillerson said.
Asked by CBS News reporter Margaret Brennan how he’ll know North Korea is ready to talk, Tillerson replied: “They will tell me. They will tell me.”
“We receive messages from them,” he said. “And I think it will be very explicit as to how we want to have that first conversation.”
A series of UN sanctions first imposed 12 years ago aim to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.
A UN Security Council resolution passed in September limits North Korea oil and natural gas imports, and bars joint economic ventures with other countries.