President Moon to mediate in US-NK communications

May 18, 2018, 10:17 am

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President Moon Jae-in listens to the report of Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon at the Innovation Growth Report Conference held at Magok R&D Complex in Seoul on May 17./ Source: Yonhap News

By AsiaToday reporter Son Ji-eun 

President Moon Jae-in has decided to take a more active role as a mediator in preparations for the US-North Korea summit amid rising tensions between the two countries. As the United States has shown a flexible attitude by taking out the "Trump model", not the Libyan model, in response to the recent North Korean provocations, the two sides are likely to coordinately closely through inter-Korean calls on hotline and the upcoming South Korea-US summit talks scheduled to take place on May 22. 

In a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) at the presidential Cheong Wa Dae on Thursday, ranking security and diplomatic officials decided to continue their contacts with the North through various channels to ensure that the upcoming North-US summit is held successfully based on mutual respect. "The spirit of mutual respect means both sides need to put themselves in each other's shoes and try to understand each other," a key Cheong Wa Dae official said. "Watching the response from the US and North Korea, we believe both countries are taking sincere and serious attitudes," the official said.

"In the upcoming summit with Trump on May 22, President Moon will fully deliver North Korea's position and attitude," the official said. National Security Office Director Chung Eui-yong has already spoken with his American counterpart John Bolton on Wednesday to coordinate his views closely. 

South Korea will focus on dialogue with North Korea as the North abruptly cancelled the planned high-level inter-Korean talks, symbolically expressing its discontent over the "Libyan model" of the United States. "The South Korean government will play a more active role as a broker. It will also deliver Washington's stance to Pyongyang, helping the two countries narrow the gap," the official said. 

Cheong Wa Dae plans to mediate US-North Korea standoff in the judgment that neither North Korea nor the US wants to spoil the mood. Asked whether the summit with the North was still on, US President Donald Trump told reporters, "We'll see what happens."

The fact that both the North and the US are playing the good cop and bad cop game shows neither of them wants to spoil the mood. While top security adviser John Bolton is playing Trump's bad cop in the United States, North Korean vice foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan is playing Kim Jong-un's bad cop in the North. While Bolton and Kim Kye-gwan are strategically keeping the hard-line stance in order to enhance their negotiating power while not trying to stimulate sentiment between the two national leaders, the end points of the denuclearization negotiations.

The US is trying not to irritate North Korea, that is hostile to Libyan-style denuclearization model. "I haven't seen that (Libyan model) as part of any discussions so I'm not aware that that's a model that we're using," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. "There's not a cookie cutter model on how this would work." She said it would be the "President Trump model."

China called for a more realistic approach to the United States. China's foreign minister Wang Yi said that to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the situation of one party showing flexibility and the other tending to take a tougher stance must be avoided. "The measures North Korea has taken should be acknowledged and the United States should cherish the opportunity for peace," Wang said. 

"The US administration ought to be contemplating what sort of partial or phased deal with North Korea it would accept," said Washington Post. "If Mr. Kim can be induced to make his testing freeze permanent and stop any deployment or export of nuclear weapons, that would be far preferable to the status quo."

#President Moon #mediator #Libyan model #Trump model #denuclearization 
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