The choice of Vietnam as the venue for a 2nd US-NKorea Summit this month shows the possibility of moving beyond conflict and division toward a thriving partnership, the US State Department said Thursday.
State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told a news briefing that US Special Representative for NKorea Stephen Biegun was in Pyongyang to prepare the 27-28 February Summit and seeking progress on commitments made at the 1st meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June.
These included complete denuclearization, transformation of US-N Korea relations and building a lasting peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula, he said. Mr. Palladino reiterated that sanctions relief that NKorea has been seeking would follow its denuclearization.
He said US-Vietnamese history “reflects the possibility for peace and prosperity.”
“We moved past conflict and division towards the thriving partnership we enjoy today,” Mr. Palladino said.
SKorea’s Yonhap news agency quoted diplomatic sources as saying that Mr. Biegun was expected to fly back to SKorea Friday to share the outcome of his Pyongyang visit, although his stay in NKorea could be extended if additional discussions were needed.
President Trump announced the plan for his second meeting Kim in his annual State of the Union address Tuesday.
He said much work remained to be done in the push for peace with NKorea, but cited the halt in its nuclear testing and no new missile launches in 15 months as proof of progress.
President Trump has been eager for a 2nd Summit despite a lack of significant moves by NKorea to give up its nuclear weapons program. He and Mr. Biegun have stressed the economic benefits to NKorea if it does so.
Mr. Biegun said last week his Pyongyang talks would be aimed at mapping out “a set of concrete deliverable’s” for the 2nd Summit. He said Washington was willing to discuss “many actions” to improve ties and entice Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and that President Trump was ready to end the 1950-53 Korean War, which concluded with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
While in the US view, NKorea has yet to take concrete steps to give up its nuclear weapons, Pyongyang complains that Washington has done little to reciprocate for its freezing of nuclear and missile testing and dismantling of some facilities.
Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has good relations with both the US and NKorea, has been keen to host the 2nd Summit as a demonstration of its normalization of ties with the United States since the Vietnam War, which ended in Y 1975 and killed more than 58,000 Americans and an estimated 3-M Vietnamese.
The United States sustained more than 33,000 battle deaths in the Korean War, while the number of NKoreans killed, both military and civilian, has been estimated at about 1-M.
While President Trump has hailed “tremendous progress” in his dealings with NKorea, a confidential report by UN sanctions monitors seen by Reuters this week cast further doubt on NKorea’s intentions.
It said the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remained intact and NKorea was working to make sure those capabilities could not be destroyed by any military strikes.