+ A

Bolton says 2nd summit possible after New Year

Hawkish adviser says sanctions depend on North’s ‘performance’
Dec 08,2018
John Bolton, the U.S. national security adviser, said Thursday that Washington will remove sanctions when it sees “performance” from North Korea and advocated a second summit between the two countries’ leaders.

In an interview with Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR), Bolton discussed a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and said it will be possible “sometime after the first of the year.”

Through a second North-U.S. summit, Bolton said Trump “is trying to give the North Koreans a chance to live up to the commitments they made at the Singapore summit” and has “held the door open for them.

“They need to walk through it,” Bolton continued. “This is one more chance for Kim Jong-un, who is the only decision maker that matters in the North Korean system, to deliver on what he said in Singapore.”

During the first North-U.S. summit on June 12, Kim committed to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. Washington pledged security guarantees in return, but there has been a standstill in nuclear talks in recent weeks.

Bolton, a hard-liner on North Korea in the Trump administration, confirmed that North Korea “canceled” high-level talks scheduled between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol, the vice chairman of the Central Committee of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, one month ago.

But when asked if the second Kim-Trump summit is a last chance for Pyongyang, Bolton replied he is “not going to prejudge what the president may do.” He emphasized the need for face-to-face meetings, saying they first need to have “Kim Jong-un in the room.”

Despite the lack of progress in negotiations, Bolton said that Trump doesn’t view a second summit as a reward for North Korea, and instead called for “performance” from the North.

“When we get performance, then we can look at removing the economic sanctions,” he said.

Pyongyang has been unresponsive to Washington’s requests to reschedule high-level and working-level meetings. Secret communication, however, has continued, and Andrew Kim, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s head of the Korea Mission Center, was spotted earlier this week meeting Pyongyang officials at the Panmunjom truce village on the inter-Korean border.

Bolton said at The Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council conference in Washington on Tuesday that North Korea has “not lived up to the commitments so far,” which is why Trump “thinks that another summit is likely to be productive.”

However, he added, “If the North Koreans follow through on their commitments,” then “President Trump will deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Seoul has also been working to have North Korean leader Kim visit Seoul within the year, as agreed on during the September inter-Korean Pyongyang summit, which Trump also supported during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week in Argentina.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held bilateral “in-depth” talks in Washington Thursday on the North-U.S. denuclearization negotiations and progress in inter-Korean relations.

Kang, who led the South Korean delegation to the funeral of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, and Pompeo also “reaffirmed the importance of implementing existing sanctions,” according to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry on Friday.

It said in a statement that Seoul and Washington “resolved a number of issues between the two countries in an exemplary manner in the spirit of alliance.” The two sides are currently under pressure to negotiate a new multi-year cost-sharing deal for maintaining American troops in South Korea. The current deal is set to expire at the end of the month.

The U.S. State Department said in a short statement that Kang and Pompeo reaffirmed the “ironclad alliance” between Washington and Seoul and “pledged to maintain close coordination to ensure the final, fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea.

South Korean and U.S. officials also held a working group meeting on the North Korea denuclearization issue via video conference Friday morning.

It was a follow-up to the launching of the working group on Nov. 20 in Washington. The consultative body is headed by Lee Do-hoon, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, and Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea.

Rhee Dong-reol, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s peace diplomacy bureau, along with officials from the Ministries of National Defense and Unification and the Blue House, took part in the working group meeting, which lasted over an hour, according to the Foreign Ministry. Alex Wong, deputy assistant secretary of state for North Korea in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, led the U.S. team.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]