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North Korea offers halt to ICBM program, Chosun says
09 March 2018, 03:04 | Tara Lloyd
VINCENT YU AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has endorsed an offer to talk to the United States about reducing nuclear programme
Throughout the Olympics the U.S. maintained that North Korean gestures of rapprochement would carry little weight without such a commitment.
Decades of Western attempts to persuade Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons have failed. Given the inaccessibility of the regime, the lack of information about the decision-making process in Pyongyang (if there is one, besides Kim's whims), it remains the inscrutable North, and pundits admit their peddling guesswork. The North defends its weapons programs as necessary to counter USA aggression.
"Since the detainment of Kim Jung-wook in 2013, we have proposed to hold separate inter-Korean meetings to solve this issue and have raised the issue whenever the opportunity arose", the spokesperson explained, "at high-level inter-Korean contact, inter-Korean red cross working level talks, etc". Up until now, they have kept the stance that their nuclear weapons program would never be up for debate.
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Chung Eui-yong, a South Korean envoy and President Moon Jae-in's security adviser, will reportedly deliver a message to US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster this week during a two-day visit to Washington beginning Thursday.
USA media reports say South Korea and the US will kick off their annual joint military drills at the end of this month.
Chung said the two Koreas would hold a summit at a South Korea-controlled facility.
- What will be the sticking points?
What it means by security guarantees and the elimination of military threats against it - which it says it needs to consider giving up nuclear weapons - will be crucial. "But we are prepared to go either way", he said.
Pyongyang and Washington may also have diverging views on denuclearisation. "I think that their statement and the statements coming out of South Korea and North Korea have been very positive".
And he added: "Even if an agreement is reached on freezing the North's nuclear programmes, complete verification would be next to impossible".
- What happens to the joint exercises?
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"Despite the light at the end of the tunnel the journey ahead will not be smooth", he stressed.
On Wednesday two defense officials told CNN that the United States has scheduled the annual joint military exercise with South Korea, known as Foal Eagle, for March 31. The North sees the allies' drills as an invasion rehearsal.
- How will it play internally in the North?
North Korea is so hermetic that foreign intelligence agencies were not sure Mr Kim was heir apparent until a few years before the death of his secretive and dour father.
The State Department's roster of senior diplomats dealing with and experienced on North Korea is seriously depleted.
The North's media made no mention of its new position on Wednesday, but analysts dismissed the possibility of any internal conflict over Kim's offer to put its "treasured sword" up for negotiation.
As the tweets rise in comments, the world can't help but wonder what is going to take place between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un Will Donald Trump be able to gain enough courage to attempt this meeting?
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