For the first time in seven months, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, visited South Korea.
He wrapped up his three-day visit today before hopping over to Japan.
On Wednesday, he met with South Korea's top diplomats and nuclear envoy to discuss bilateral relations and North Korea and on Thursday, Biegun spoke with Seoul's new National Security Advisor, Suh Hoon, at the nation's presidential office.
Although Biegun said his visit to South Korea was not to meet with the North, it was made clear to Pyeongyang that Washington is open for dialogue and and that it supports inter-Korean cooperation.
For an in-depth look into this, we have Dr. Go Myong-hyun from the Asan Institute for Policy Studies joining us in the studio today.
Welcome to the program.
Great to be here.
Stephen Biegun said very strongly that the U.S. FULLY supports South Korea's plans to cooperate with the North, saying inter-Korean cooperation creates stability on the peninsula. Now, we all know that there has always been concerns that the bilateral working group between Seoul and Washington is what put the brakes on inter-Korean cooperation projects. The U.S. was wary of things getting ahead of progress in denuclearization. What do you make of Biegun's recent remark?
South Korea's top nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon says Biegun reconfirmed that the U.S. remains "flexible" to reach a "balanced deal" when talks resume with the North. The phrases "flexible" and "balanced deal" standout.What can we expect from the U.S.? Does this mean we can expect any sort of concessions from Washington?
Remember, over the weekend and on Tuesday on the very day of Biegun's arrival North Korea's senior diplomats issued statements to stress that Pyeongyang won't sit down for talks with the U.S. Now, Biegun brought up these statements and said they're "somewhat strange" because he had never requested talks. Biegun made it crystal clear that he was not here to meet with the North. How did you read this?
Now, the U.S. embassy in Seoul sent out a press release regarding what Biegun had to say upon his South Korea visit. Much of the remarks are the same as what he actually said at the door-stepping interview on Wednesday, as well as comments that he didn't explicitly say out loud criticisms against North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui. He said Choi is locked up in old mindset and is only focused on things that are negative and impossible. He added, dialogue leads to action, but action can't happen without dialogue which is a message calling out North Korea for dialogue. What are your views on these comments?
All of this, we have to remember, is happening after the North blew up the joint liaison office and threatened further military actions, which were then suspended by Kim Jong-un. But, even with the North saying it doesn't want to talk with the U.S., Seoul and Washington are moving to shake things up. Considering what has transpired, what do you think the North's initial objective was?
Trump, in a TV interview, said he would sit down for a third summit with Kim Jong-un. What he said exactly was: "I would do it if I thought it was going to be helpful." How should we read into this? Can we say that Trump is being proactive and positive about having another summit with Kim?
One key question remains: will anything happen between now and the U.S. presidential election in November? There have been comments from North Korea watchers and former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton about a possible "October surprise." What is your view?
Nuclear diplomacy pretty much stalled for 8 months. But, now, South Korea has a new line up of foreign affairs and security chiefs new unification minister, new national intelligence chief, and new National Security Advisor. Biegun has also expressed the U.S.' willingness to talk. How do you see things unfolding?
Alright, deep insight into ongoing Korean Peninsula diplomacy, thank you for your comments today, we really appreciate it.