S Korea to play ‘mediator’ to resolve N Korea-US summit doubts
SEOUL – Reuters
South Korea said on May 17 that it would seek to mediate between the United States and North Korea after Pyongyang threatened to pull out of an unprecedented summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump on June 12 in Singapore.
Japan’s Asahi newspaper reported on May 17 that the United States has demanded North Korea ship some nuclear warheads, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and other nuclear material overseas within six months.
The newspaper, citing several sources familiar with North Korean issues, said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to have told the North Korean leader when they met this month that Pyongyang might be removed from a list of state sponsors of terrorism if it ships out those nuclear items.
The Asahi also reported that if Pyongyang agrees to complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization at the planned Singapore summit, Washington was considering giving guarantees for Kim’s regime.
Trump has said it is unclear whether the summit will go ahead but he would continue to insist on denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House said it would seek to bridge the gap between the Washington and Pyongyang.
The Blue House intends to “sufficiently convey [to the United States] what we’ve discerned about North Korea’s position and attitude... and sufficiently convey the United States’ position to North Korea,” thereby helping to bridge the gap between their positions, the official said.
“Seeing the announced statements and responses from North Korea and the United States, we see the two parties as having a sincere and serious attitude [to stand in each other’s shoes],” the official said.
Meanwhile, Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, said on Thursday the measures North Korea has taken to ease tension on the Korean peninsula should be acknowledged, and all other parties, especially the United States, should cherish the opportunity for peace.
Cancellation of the summit, the first between U.S. and North Korean leaders, would deal a major blow to what would be the biggest diplomatic achievement of Trump’s presidency. This comes at a time when his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has drawn criticism internationally and his move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem has fuelled deadly violence on the Israel-Gaza border.