US President Donald Trump asked President Moon Jae-in to act as the “chief negotiator” in dealings between Washington and Pyongyang, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Thursday.
The spokesman also revealed that Seoul’s National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong delivered a message from Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on his visit to Pyongyang on Wednesday.
“During the phone conversation between the presidents day before yesterday, Trump gave a message to Kim, which was delivered by Chung yesterday,” Kim Eui-kyeom said. According to the spokesman, Chung and the other four envoys met with the North Korean leader from 10:30 a.m. until just past noon on Wednesday.
North Korea`s leader Kim Jong-un smiles during talks with South Korea`s presidential envoy delegation in Pyongyang on Sept. 5, 2018, in this photo released by the South`s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. (Yonhap)
“During the (phone) conversation, Trump asked Moon to be the chief negotiator representing both North Korea and the US.”
Chung revealed earlier in the day that he came back with a message from Kim to Trump, which will be conveyed to US National Security Adviser John Bolton in a phone conversation scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday.
According to Kim Eui-kyeom, Moon was “very satisfied” with Chung’s visit, in an apparent response to criticism that the envoys failed to bring tangible results.
The spokesman went on to say that Kim Jong-un’s statement regarding achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula within Trump’s first term was the most significant revelation from the trip.
While North Korea has repeatedly stated that it is fully committed to denuclearization, which has been received with ample skepticism, this is the first time its leader has suggested a timeframe.
“When we (Seoul) consider the peace process, declaring the end of the Korean War is the entrance of the denuclearization process, and complete denuclearization that is the end point will see a peace agreement,” Kim Eui-kyeom said.
“(I) think that achieving denuclearization during Trump’s first term is (a statement) that has a peace agreement in mind.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)