North Korea Reportedly Willing to Hold Nuclear Talk With US

North Korean leader Kim Jung Un has expressed a willingness to discuss nuclear disarmament with the United States
(Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jung Un has expressed a willingness to discuss nuclear disarmament with the United States and impose a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests during such talks, a senior South Korean official said Tuesday after returning from the North.

Kim also agreed to meet with South Korea’s president at a tense border village in late April, presidential national security director Chung Eui-yong said after talks with Kim in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.

North Korea’s reported willingness to hold a “candid dialogue” with the United States to discuss denuclearization and establish diplomatic relations follows a year of increased fears of war on the Korean Peninsula, with Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump exchanging fiery rhetoric and crude insults over Kim’s barrage of weapons tests.

The Trump administration also pushed through some of the harshest sanctions the already hugely sanctioned North has yet faced.

Trump tweeted Tuesday that “possible progress” was being made in the talks with North Korea, and that all sides were making serious efforts. He added: “May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”

There is still skepticism whether the developments will help establish genuine peace between the Koreas, which have a long history of failing to follow through with major rapprochement agreements. The United States has made it clear that it doesn’t want empty talks with North Korea and that all options, including military measures, remain on the table.

Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at South Korea’s Sejong Institute said the agreements “potentially pave the way for meaningful dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang” and could offer an opportunity to stably manage the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programs.

“Getting North Korea to agree to halt additional nuclear weapons and missile tests while the dialogue goes on is the biggest achievement of the visit to Pyongyang by the South Korean presidential envoys,” he said.