SEOUL: SOUTH Korea said yesterday it will seek to mediate between the United States and North Korea after Pyongyang threatened to pull out of an unprecedented summit between its leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump on June 12 in Singapore.
North Korea on Wednesday said it might not attend the summit if Washington continued to demand it unilaterally abandon its nuclear arsenal.
Japan’s Asahi newspaper yesterday reported the US has demanded North Korea ship some nuclear warheads, an intercontinental ballistic missile and other nuclear material overseas within six months.
The newspaper, citing several sources familiar with North Korean issues, said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to have told the North Korean leader when they met this month that Pyongyang might be removed from a list of state sponsors of terrorism if it ships out those nuclear items.
The Asahi also reported that if Pyongyang agrees to complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation at the planned Singapore summit, Washington was considering giving guarantees for Kim’s regime.
Doubts over the US-North Korea summit arose on Wednesday when Pyongyang denounced US-South Korean military exercises as a provocation and called off high-level talks with Seoul.
Trump said it was unclear whether the summit would go ahead but he would continue to insist on denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House said it would seek to bridge the gap between Washington and Pyongyang.
A Blue House official said the government intended to more actively perform “the role of a mediator” between South Korea, the US and North Korea.
Trump will host South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a summit at the White House on Tuesday, and the two are expected to discuss the upcoming US-North Korea summit.
The Blue House intends to “sufficiently convey (to the US) what we’ve discerned about North Korea’s position and attitude... and sufficiently convey the US’ position to North Korea”, thereby helping to bridge the gap between their positions, the official said.
“Seeing the announced statements and responses from North Korea and the United States, we see the two parties as having a sincere and serious attitude (to stand in each other’s shoes).”
South Korea intends to continue discussions with North Korea to hold high-level talks North Korea cancelled on Wednesday, Blue House said in a separate statement yesterday.
Trump sounded a note of caution on Wednesday about his much-vaunted summit with Kim, saying “we’ll see” after Pyongyang threatened to cancel.
He said the US government had not received any official word of a change in plans for the June 12 meeting in Singapore.
“We haven’t been notified at all. We’ll have to see,” Trump said at the Oval Office.
“We haven’t seen anything. We haven’t heard anything. We will see what happens. Whatever it is, it is.” -- Agencies