North Korean leader open to third Trump summit: KCNA

Evarado Alatorre
Abril 16, 2019

Kim Yong Nam, the now-91-year-old who held the position of the North's head of state - an nearly entirely ceremonial role - for nearly 20 years, was replaced by Choe Ryong Hae, the state-run KCNA said.

"In any case we will wait with patience for the U.S. courageous decision by the end of this year but it will clearly be tough to get such a good opportunity like the last time", Mr Kim said in a speech at North Korea's rubber-stamp legislature, according to the KCNA report.

South Korea's Blue House said in a statement that officials would "do what we can in order to maintain the current momentum for dialogue and help negotiations between the USA and North Korea resume at an early date".

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is calling on the USA to stop "its current way of calculation" if it is interested in continuing diplomatic talks, according to a report from the country's state news agency KCNA.

Jeong Young-tae, an analyst at the Institute of North Korean Studies in Seoul, says the new title is part of Pyongyang's efforts to "secularise" Kim and his power.

Trump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore a year ago.

"We want sanctions to remain in place", Trump said Thursday at the White House during a meeting with South Korea President Moon Jae-in. "But U.S. -style dialogue of unilaterally pushing its demands doesn't fit us, and we have no interest in it", Kim said during the speech. "We will wait with patience until the end of the year for the United States to come up with a courageous decision".

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Trump, however, said after the Hanoi summit that North Korea committed to "totally" dismantling its main Yongbyon nuclear complex, but the lifting of the sanctions would require Pyongyang to scrap other nuclear facilities and programs, including undeclared ones.

The North's leader's continued emphasis on "self-reliance" has aggravated concerns that Pyongyang would continue its defiant stance - or revert to a provocative tack - with the growing nuclear program, no matter how heavily the crippling sanctions weigh on its moribund economy.

"We are willing to give another try if the USA offers to have a third summit with the right attitude and mutually acceptable terms", he said, according to a report by North Korean state media outlet KCNA.

Kim's statement doesn't necessarily move the talks forward, but it does suggest he remains invested in the diplomatic process, says Mintaro Oba, a former State Department diplomat who focuses on Korea.

In response to Kim's criticism on Saturday, the South Korean presidential office reiterated its commitment to that goal. "(North Korea) to its knees".

Analysts said, however, the existing strictures on Choe will have little impact on his future diplomatic endeavours, as long as its nuclear dialogue with the USA continues.

South Korean analysts believe Choe is being positioned to supervise North Korea's top diplomats since one of his titles is vice chairman of the State Affairs Commission, a position his predecessor did not hold. But Trump said he is still looking for a wide-ranging agreement under which North Korea commits to completely dismantling its nuclear weapons. The biggest political development related to Korean peninsula issues was Thursday's Moon-Trump meeting.

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