Before Donald Trump called off the rumored peace talks with North Korea, the North Koreans engaged in what some are calling a display of good intentions. They invited reporters to watch the demolition of a nuclear test site. Will it be enough to convince the United States to come back to the negotiating table?
President Donald Trump was slated to meet Kim Jong-un on June 12 for a peace summit. Part of the conditions for these talks was an understanding that North Korea would give up its nuclear program.
The North Koreans, though, made disparaging remarks about Vice President Pence after he (as others in the administration have done) compared North Korea to Libya.
“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in a letter to Kim.
Now, North Korea says they are willing to talk “any time in any form.” They are placing the blame for the cancelled talks squarely on President Trump.
“The abrupt announcement of the cancellation of the meeting is unexpected for us and we cannot but find it extremely regrettable,” Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister, said in a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency.
“We again state to the US our willingness to sit face-to-face at any time in any form to resolve the problem,” Kim added.
Yet in the days leading up to this news, the North Koreans were actively preparing for the demolition of the Punggye-ri nuclear test ground.
Reporters were taken by train to the test site. Though they were not allowed to know where they were going, they arrived ahead of the demolition and were shown many of the preparations.
The tunnels were wired with explosives. The reporters were then taken to observation platforms to watch the explosions.
The explosions, though, appeared to demolish only the entrances to the tunnels, which North Korea then declared sealed.
The gesture, though, has been backed by more words of conciliation from the North Korean regime in the hopes that both sides will meet at the negotiating table.
“The recent easing situation on the peninsula is hard won, the political settlement process is faced with a rare historic opportunity,” North Korean foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press conference.
“Under the current circumstances we hope both the DPRK and the US can cherish the recent positive progress, stay patient, show goodwill, move in the same direction and continue to stay committed to promoting the denuclearisation of the peninsula.” Lu said, using North Korea’s official initials.