US-North Korea in secret talks to end nuclear crisis?
Posted : 2017-04-16 13:37
Updated : 2017-04-17 14:31
By Park Si-soo
Tensions surrounding the Korean Peninsula are extreme, with no immediate sign of easing. North Korea has made it clear it will respond tit-for-tat to aggressive U.S. moves by firing a missile on Sunday morning, although the launch failed dismally.
The geopolitical crisis is expected to face a critical juncture this week as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence makes a three-day visit to Seoul from Sunday afternoon, during which he will discuss a possible breakthrough with his South Korean counterpart, Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn.
Against this backdrop, a senior journalist here has raised startling claims that secret talks had begun between the U.S. and North Korea in New York to end the crisis.
The North's recent revival of a parliamentary foreign affairs commission was a "prelude" to the alleged bilateral dialogue, said Korea Economic editorial writer Jeong Kyu-jae, in a self-produced news analysis video posted on YouTube on Friday afternoon.
He did not present any concrete evidence of the alleged secret talks, merely claiming that his claim was based on intelligence from credible sources. The video has been watched more than 150,000 times as of Sunday noon.
"It seems to be true that a secret meeting between the U.S. and North Korea has begun," Jeong says in the 20-minute video." As far as I know, the U.S. will demand that North Korea permanently abandon, not freeze, its nuclear program."
The Korea Times contacted government bodies handling North Korean issues, but nobody confirmed such a meeting.
The favors Washington is reported to have offered in return for the North's permanent abandonment of its nuclear program are somewhat mind-boggling.
According to Jeong, the U.S. has expressed its willingness to establish a formal diplomatic relationship with North Korea. Once the relationship is formed, Washington would station an infantry outside Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, to protect the Kim Jong-un regime, and the U.S. Navy would support the mission at North Korea's military port in Wonsan, according to the journalist.
"If the dialogue turns out to be productive, U.S. President Donald Trump might send his special envoy to the North in a clandestine manner in late April or early May," he said. "This is a scenario that will play out only when things unfold smoothly. If the talks are unsuccessful, the U.S. might consider a military strike as the next option."
Experts called Jeong's claims "absurd" and "unrealistic" A North Korea expert here said China would never agree to U.S. forces being stationed near Pyongyang.