By Junichi Toyoura / Yomiuri Shimbun CorrespondentSEOUL — U.S. President Donald Trump has told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that if Kim presents a proposal that is a little more advanced than what Kim put forward at their February meeting in Hanoi, the United States will take “appropriate measures,” The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
According to a source close to the trilateral talks between Japan, the United States and South Korea, the “appropriate measures” are expected to include setting up liaison offices in both the United States and North Korea and providing economic assistance for humanitarian purposes.
The two leaders discussed the North Korean nuclear issue at their third meeting on June 30 at Panmunjom, Korea, which lies along the military demarcation line.
At their Hanoi talks, Kim spoke of dismantling the North’s nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, in the northwestern part of the country. Trump is said to have demanded more, including denuclearization measures for uranium enrichment facilities and other steps, which could be described as a “Yongbyon plus.”
The establishment of liaison offices is seen as a stepping stone toward openings of embassies once the United States and North Korea achieve normalization of their diplomatic relations, and could provide the safety assurances for the North Korean regime that Pyongyang has demanded.
At the Panmunjom talks, the source said, Kim insisted that a “phased, simultaneous and parallel denuclearization” should be done, stating: “We are definitely prepared to dismantle Yongbyon. It is not a desirable way to try to achieve denuclearization in a day.”
It is believed that there have been no major changes from past arguments on the subject of denuclearization. In addition, Kim seems to have sought an assurance for preserving the North’s regime by saying, “The United States should abandon its hostile policies.”
According to the source, Trump suggested to Kim that they hold their fourth summit this year, saying, “Let’s meet again sometime this year and talk frankly.” While Kim’s reaction is unclear, the source said the next summit is “likely to be held later this year.”
The “Yongbyon plus” is believed to include U.S. demands for denuclearization measures at secret facilities such as a uranium enrichment facility at Kangsong in the suburbs of Pyongyang, and a missile plant in Sanumdong, according to media reports.
The source described these secret facilities as the “final bargaining chips” for Kim. Thus, Kim cannot easily put them on the negotiating table. Therefore, Kim’s response to the U.S. approach will be a litmus test by which Trump can determine Kim’s seriousness about denuclearization.Speech