Kim Jong Un renews pledge to denuclearise

He voices hopes to end hostile ties within Trump's current term

South Korean chief envoy Chung Eui-yong speaking to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their talks in Pyongyang on Wednesday.
South Korean chief envoy Chung Eui-yong speaking to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their talks in Pyongyang on Wednesday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has renewed his commitment to denuclearisation and expressed faith in US President Donald Trump to resolve the nuclear stalemate, which drew praise from Mr Trump.

Mr Kim, through a South Korean envoy, also promised to cooperate with the United States in nuclear talks and voiced hopes to end hostile ties before Mr Trump's current term ends in 2021.

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims 'unwavering faith in President Trump'. Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!" Mr Trump posted on Twitter yesterday.

Analysts said the friendly tones bode well for the talks, which stalled after both sides refused to give in to each other's demands on steps towards denuclearisation.

The impasse had prompted South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who played a key role in mediating the first Trump-Kim summit held in Singapore in June, to send a delegation headed by chief envoy and national security adviser Chung Eui-yong to Pyongyang on Wednesday.

While the main goal was to discuss the third inter-Korea summit slated for Sept 18 to 20, he also delivered a message from Mr Trump to Mr Kim. Details of the message are not known. Mr Kim reciprocated with an undisclosed message to Mr Trump, which Mr Chung conveyed to his US counterpart, National Security Adviser John Bolton, in a phone call last night.

Mr Trump, in a phone conversation with Mr Moon on Tuesday, had asked his South Korean counterpart to be the "chief negotiator" between Washington and Pyongyang.

Hopes are pinned on Mr Moon, who will be meeting Mr Kim in Pyongyang, to break the impasse.

Mr Chung said yesterday the two leaders will examine the implementation of the agreements made when they first met in April, and discuss issues like establishing permanent peace and achieving denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

He also said both sides agreed to open a joint liaison office before the Moon-Kim meeting.

Despite recent setbacks in negotiations, Mr Kim stressed to Mr Chung that his trust in President Trump remains unchanged.

The US State Department said yesterday that Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun will travel to Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo from Sept 10 to 15. He will continue diplomatic efforts to achieve the fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea as agreed to by Mr Kim in Singapore.

Sogang University Professor Kim Jae-chun told The Straits Times that there is a chance Mr Kim would pledge to provide a list of its nuclear materials and weapons, when he meets Mr Moon. "One way or another, he will have to do something to please Trump before the US midterm elections," he said.

But Asian politics expert Sean King of US-based consulting firm Park Strategies said: "I think Kim is just playing for time, sucking in the South to get economic assistance and some kind of declaration to end the Korean War."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2018, with the headline Kim Jong Un renews pledge to denuclearise. Subscribe