ShareThis Page
World

U.S. officials say no added conditions for North Korea talks

| Sunday, March 11, 2018, 10:27 a.m.
In this file photo taken Tuesday, May 10, 2016, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade participants at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea. Under the Marxist model, dynastic succession isn't supposed to happen. But Kim Il Sung, who ruled for 46 years until his death in 1994, jettisoned that thinking and groomed his son, Kim Jong Il, to lead. The hereditary dictatorship, now in its third generation under grandson Kim Jong Un, has proven resilient, lasting 70 years in direct conflict with the United States. The regime is possibly stronger than ever and is on the verge of having a viable nuclear weapon. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
In this file photo taken Tuesday, May 10, 2016, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at parade participants at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea. Under the Marxist model, dynastic succession isn't supposed to happen. But Kim Il Sung, who ruled for 46 years until his death in 1994, jettisoned that thinking and groomed his son, Kim Jong Il, to lead. The hereditary dictatorship, now in its third generation under grandson Kim Jong Un, has proven resilient, lasting 70 years in direct conflict with the United States. The regime is possibly stronger than ever and is on the verge of having a viable nuclear weapon. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

Trump administration officials said Sunday there will be no more conditions imposed on North Korea before a first-ever meeting of the two nation's leaders beyond the North's promise not to resume nuclear testing and missile flights or publicly criticize U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

The officials' comments followed the surprise announcement last week that President Donald Trump has agreed to meet the North's Kim Jong Un by May.

“This potential meeting has been agreed to, there are no additional conditions being stipulated, but, again they — they cannot engage in missile testing, they cannot engage in nuclear testing and they can't publicly object to the U.S.-South Korea planned military exercises,” deputy White House spokesman Raj Shah said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the summit would give Trump a chance “to sit down and see if he can cut a deal” with Kim over the North's nuclear program. “The president has been very clear in what the objective is here. And that is to get rid of nuclear weapons on the (Korean) peninsula,” Mnuchin said.

The administration officials credited toughened economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, and pushed by the United States, with helping bring Kim to the brink of negotiations.

“Our policy is pressure, is pressure from our partners and allies around the world, pressure to the United Nations, pressure through China, these have had an impact. It's impacted Kim Jong Un's behavior. It's impacted his conduct,” Shah said.

But some members of Congress said they worry that Trump acted impulsively in agreeing to meet with Kim, before negotiators for both countries had a chance to set some goals the leaders could agree to.

“But the important thing is the diplomatic work that has to go in before such a meeting. A meeting like that would be kind of an afterthought after things are negotiated. Here it looks as if, you know, that's kind of the opening gambit. And that's a little worrisome,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a frequent Trump critic.

The U.S. and South Korea hold military maneuvers every year. They were postponed during the recent Winter Olympics in South Korea. They are expected to be held in April, but no official announcement has been made about when they will take place. In an interview en route to the Middle East, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declined to discuss the timing and scale of the exercises.

Mattis wouldn't talk at all about the diplomatic push over North Korea's nuclear program. “When you get in a position like this, the potential for misunderstanding remains very high,” he said.

Mattis was among the advisers in the White House on Thursday when Trump decided to accept Kim's offer to meet. The offer was relayed to Trump by a South Korean government delegation that briefed the president on their meeting with Kim last week in North Korea's capital.

Trump said Saturday that he believes North Korea will abide by its pledge to suspend missile tests while he prepares for the summit. He noted in a tweet that North Korea has refrained from such tests since November and said Kim “has promised not to do so through our meetings.”

“I believe they will honor that commitment,” the president said.

Later, at a political rally in Pennsylvania, when Trump mentioned Kim's name, the crowd booed. But Trump responded: “No, it's very positive ... no, after the meeting you may do that, but now we have to be very nice because let's see what happens, let's see what happens.”

Flake and Mnuchin spoke on NBC's “Meet the Press.” Shah was on ABC's “This Week.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me