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Trump offers Kim Jong-un summit with big conditions: Japan Times

May 09,2017
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Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un.
The Donald Trump administration reportedly told Pyongyang through Beijing that it would "provide security guarantee" for the Kim Jong-un regime and invite the North Korean leader to the U.S. for direct talks if Pyongyang scraps its missile and nuclear weapons program, according to the Japan Times Tuesday.

Citing unidentified diplomatic sources, the Japanese newspaper wrote that in return for North Korea foreswearing its nuclear and missile technologies, the U.S. promised it "would not seek regime change, regime collapse or an accelerated reunification of the Korean Peninsula, nor would it look for an excuse to advance north of the 38th parallel, the de facto inter-Korean border."

China is believed to have already informed North Korea of the U.S. proposals, the paper continued.

But assuming the North would not accept the offer, Beijing reportedly told Pyongyang that it would separately provide economic aid and guarantee "North Korea and the United States working toward concluding a peace treaty" in exchange for denuclearization.

The report came a week after Trump told Bloomberg News he would be "honored" to meet with Kim if the circumstances were right, the first time he's personally given a green light to direct talks with the North Korean leader.

Trump did not specify what those right circumstances were, but White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer later said the North would have to completely dismantle its nuclear capability, stressing, "Clearly, conditions are not there right now."

In a vague text message to journalists Tuesday, South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the report from the Japan Times was "known to either be a matter that the U.S. could not confirm, or not true."

A South Korean foreign affairs official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the ministry was "told by the U.S. State Department and the National Security Council that the report was groundless," though which part of the story was wrong wasn't specifically mentioned.

"South Korea and the U.S. agree that now isn't the right time for talks" with North Korea, the official said, highlighting Pyongyang's ceaseless threats to carry out a nuclear attack.

North Korea, which releases official statements through the Korean Central News Agency, has yet to mention anything about Trump's proposal for direct talks.

While the Trump administration has stressed numerous times that "all options are on the table" in dealing with Pyongyang, including military action, the idea of dialogue on the condition of the North's denuclearization appears to be gaining traction.

During an interview with National Public Radio earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington would "obviously" like to solve the issue through direct talks, but that North Korea had to decide whether they were "ready to talk to us about the right agenda."

The right agenda, he continued, was "not simply stopping where they are for a few more months or a few more years and then resuming things."

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, YOO JEE-HYE [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]