Pyongyang, Trump scramble for leverage in North-South talks

by WorldTribune Staff, January 7, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean regime led by Kim Jong-Un are jockeying for position ahead of rare high-level talks this week between South and North Korea.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would be willing to talk with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

The two Koreas agreed to hold talks at the border village of Panmunjom on Jan. 9 to discuss the North’s possible participation in the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Trump, speaking to reporters at Camp David on Jan. 6, said he hopes South and North Korea will discuss more than just the Olympics.

“I would love to see them take it beyond the Olympics,” Trump was quoted as saying. “And at the appropriate time, we’ll get involved.”

South Korea’s liberal government and media has been enthusiastic about the long-awaited opening from the North.

Officials said the talks will focus on the Olympics amid concern from critics that Pyongyang is trying to use the PyeongChang Games to drive a wedge between the Seoul-Washington alliance.

The allies have pursued a campaign of sanctions and pressure to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Conservatives in the South voiced concern that possible financial support for the North and its athletes at the Winter Games could breach international sanctions resolutions.

Meanwhile, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) pressed its stance that “The will to enhance North-South relations must be backed up not by words, but by practical actions to foster inter-Korean reconciliation and unity, and reunification.”

KCNA added that any move to block inter-Korean contact through “improper pretexts and legal and institutional tools” is only a “deceptive” gambit to misguide public opinion at home and abroad.

Trump also signaled he would be willing to talk by phone with Kim Jong-Un.

“I always believe in talking,” Trump said while adding that Kim “knows I’m not messing around, not even a little bit.”

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