A representative from the Republic of Korea delegation that has come to DC to brief the President, National Security Advisor, etc on the results of the recent ROK-DPRK bilateral meetings. The announcement is expected momentarily. The live feed is below.
It is expected that the announcement will include a readout of a letter from Kim Jong Un to the President regarding reestablishing talks with the US in exchange for freezing the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program. This would be an important step. As Cheryl has covered here and at her own site, the DPRK has reached breakout. The issue is no longer preventing them from developing a nuclear weapon, rather it is keeping them from finishing the miniaturization process, as well as preventing proliferation and moving towards positive containment and deterrence.
Voice of America published an interesting analytical piece detailing the problems facing the US in dealing with the DPRK. Specifically, the US’s dearth of expertise.
Aaron David Miller, a senior analyst at the Wilson Center, has advised a number of Republican and Democratic secretaries of state.
Miller told VOA he believes if this recent offer of direct talks does represent a transformative change in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s position, then it is too valuable an opportunity to waste, and the U.S. should test it — first through discreet dialogue before any structured negotiations take place.
Asked who in the Trump administration could prepare and conduct sensitive, complicated and grueling direct talks with North Korea, Miller drew a blank.
“Right now, it is hard to identify any single individual or team of individuals that has both the negotiating experience and knowledge of the history, the cultural and political sensitivity, and knowledge of how the North Koreans behave and how they see the world,” he said.
He added: “In this republic, you might have to reach for people who have had experience and who are part of another administration. This administration may not be willing to do that.”
Miller said if this offer of talks becomes serious, it would mean months, if not years, of negotiations. He said the president has created some “running room” for diplomacy, and that all sides are in a better position than they were before.
Updated at 7:12 PM EST:
Kim Jong Un is offering a freeze in the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for talks. Kim is also offering denuclearization as an outcome of the negotiations and that he recognizes and accepts that ROK-US bilateral military exercises will continue.
This is a very important development. Time will tell what it actually leads to.
Updated at 10:30 PM EST:
Now that more details about the communication from Kim Jong Un, that it was an oral offer, not in writing, there is both more and less here than meets the eye. As Cheryl rightly points out in comments, the DPRK puts everything in writing, that they didn’t do so here tells us that this is just the opening of the gambit. Since nothing is in writing, it is actually unclear what the President has agreed to in exchange for meeting with Kim. What I mean by unclear is that there is what Kim has verbally offered via the ROK – a freeze on his nuclear weapons program, recognition that the US-ROK bilateral military exercises will continue, and an invitation for talks about denuclearization – and what he is actually willing to negotiate. What he’s already gotten, with the President’s quick acceptance of the verbal offer is an elevation of status for himself and the DPRK. Moreover, it is unclear whether any of this was staffed through the Interagency. So I’m not really sure what, if anything, is going to come of this invitation. I am sure that what was verbally offered by Kim via the ROK is much less than first met the eye.
“At this point we’re not even talking about negotiations,” just a meeting between the two leaders.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) March 9, 2018
Stay tuned! And frosty!