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[Issue talk] S. Korea to focus on facilitating N. Korea-U.S. talks Updated: 2019-03-14 12:41:01 KST

And for more, we have Dr. James Kim -- a research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies joining me in the studio today.

The situation doesn't really seem to favor North Korea -- the U.S. keeps pushing for a big-deal approach, and a new UN report sheds light on Pyeongyang's evasion of sanctions. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated on Wednesday that the North's leader Kim Jong-un pledged during the Hanoi Summit that his regime will not carry out further nuclear and missile tests. But, he also stressed the international community has to put pressure on the regime through sanctions to urge Kim to make the right strategic choice.
How do you view this increased pressure on Washington's part?

U.S. diplomats are meeting with key UN officials back-to-back to discuss sanctions on North Korea.
Washington's Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, will meet with the UN Security Council and key Permanent Representatives. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday to talk about the denuclearization issue.
Do you think this is along the same lines?

The U.S. State Department has released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. It's removed a key word in describing North Korea's human rights violations. The word 'egregious'.
The report also made no mention of the regime in its preface, whereas in the previous year, the North was labeled among forces of instability.
Why do you think so? Do you think it's aimed at keeping the momentum for dialogue?

According to North Korea-monitoring website 38 North, no new activity has been spotted at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Dongchang-ri.
It says a satellite image taken on March 8th, indicates that construction on the engine support structure observed over the past few weeks has been completed.
What do you make of the North's intention for the developments regarding its missile launch site?

A North Korean media outlet has urged the U.S. to accept Pyeongyang's offer to dismantle its Yeongbyeon nuclear facilities in exchange for partial sanctions relief, saying that there's no better way than this. It added that the North's stance to move toward complete denuclearization remains firm. If North Korea sticks to its position of phased denuclearization, how do you view the prospects for the denuclearization negotiations?

Amidst these developments, the South Korean government says it will focus on facilitating North Korea-U.S. talks. What do you see coming from Seoul's part?

Now Seoul has somewhat moved away from its sanctions relief option -- with a senior ministry official saying that the resumption of tours to Mount Geumgangsan or the reopening of Gaeseong Industrial Complex is not something they will push ahead with hastily. Do you think Seoul has somewhat taken into consideration Washington's position?

A South Korea-U.S. working group session is set to be held in Washington on Thursday, to coordinate various issues related to North Korea. Seoul's foreign ministry says the working group session will allow the two allies to assess the recent trends seen in inter-Korean and North Korea-U.S. relations. The working group has been able to keep talks between Pyeongyang and Washington on track. Do you think we can expect something like this again this time?

Thank you for your insights.
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