- KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images
- North Korea has told the US it is willing to discuss denuclearization, numerous media outlets reported Sunday.
- The discussion would occur during an upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
- This appears to confirm recent reports by South Korea and China that Kim has indicated he is open to denuclearization.
- But Pyongyang and Washington probably have very different visions of denuclearization, with North Korea previously indicating the offer is conditional on US actions.
For the first time, North Korea has reportedly told the US it is willing to discuss denuclearization, a number of media outlets reported Sunday.
North Korea is willing to discuss the topic during an upcoming summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, an administration official told Reuters, NBC News, and Bloomberg on Sunday. It is unclear whether this is the same source or independent accounts confirming the information.
Despite the report, Washington and Pyongyang may have different visions of “denuclearization.”
The US wants North Korea to completely abandon its nuclear weapons program, while the North has previously said it would only do so if US troops left South Korea and end its commitment to defend the South and Japan with nuclear weapons.
At the very least, the news appears to reinforce previous indications that Kim is willing to discuss the prospect of denuclearization in some manner.
After visiting Pyongyang last month, a South Korean envoy announced Kim had said it was “his father’s dying wish” to achieve denuclearization.
But South Korea has a vested interest in making it appear the North is willing to soften its stance, in the hope the US would be more likely to meet with the North. There was suspicion among experts that South Korea may have embellished Kim’s words, and that the North Korean was unlikely to be open to denuclearization or would have even used the word.
Yet Kim then raised the topic again, several times, when he recently met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Days ago it was revealed secret high-level talks have been occurring between the two countries ahead of a bilateral summit. CIA Director Mike Pompeo – who is Trump’s pick for Secretary of State following the ouster of Rex Tillerson – has been leading the talks, several administration officials told CNN.
According to Reuters, intelligence officers in both countries are using a backchannel to communicate while the State Department uses its United Nations mission as an intermediary.