The US State Department has issued a statement praising the talks between South and North Korea earlier this week as a “positive development,” praising them as a “good first step” toward more substantive talks.
The talks began on Tuesday in the demilitarized zone, the first direct talks in over two years, and concluded amicably, with North Korea agreeing to attend the Winter Olympics, and both sides agreeing to meet again in the future.
While talks on general reduction of tensions and Olympics went very smoothly, the question of nuclear disarmament appears to be a thorny issue, with the US pushing it as the top priority, and North Korea rebuking officials from the South over the matter.
North Korea says the nuclear weapons aren’t aimed at South Korea in the first place, so bilateral talks aren’t the place to address them. The State Department continued to insist nuclear disarmament must be the goal.
But whether South Korea intends to keep pushing the nuclear issue isn’t clear, as officials conceded they have policy differences with the US, and don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on questions of diplomacy.
That’s putting it mildly, as the US has struggled with whether talks should happen at all, and despite expressing openness to participating has often preconditioned that on North Korea unilaterally disarming beforehand.
South Korea’s President Moon has committed to the idea of diplomacy since his election, and seems likely to continue the talks with or without US blessing. For now, at least, US officials seem to be fine with allowing the talks to continue that way.
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