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Doubt lingers in US over NK process

Feb. 14, 2019 - 16:04 By Choi He-suk
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s views on North Korea’s true intentions have raised questions about the denuclearization process, with less than two weeks until the second US-North Korea summit.

In a meeting with South Korean lawmakers, including National Assembly Speaker Rep. Moon Hee-sang and floor leaders of ruling and opposition parties on Tuesday, Pelosi reportedly directly refuted North Korea and the Trump administration’s claims on denuclearization.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are set to meet for the second time in Hanoi on Feb. 27 and 28. 

National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang (right) shakes hands with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during their meeting in Washington on Tuesday. Yonhap

According to  reports, Pelosi stated that she does not believe North Korea intends to denuclearize and that Pyongyang’s goal is to weaken South Korea’s military readiness. She was also quoted as saying that the first US-North Korea summit held on June 12 in Singapore brought no real results.

Rep. Na Kyung-won, floor leader of the conservative main opposition Liberty Korea Party, told local media that Pelosi referred to the summit as a “gift” to Kim, and that North Korea needs to provide evidence to back up its claims.

With the exception of Na, who reportedly agreed with Pelosi, the South Korean lawmakers reportedly focused on highlighting positive developments and indicators in related developments.

“(Pelosi’s statement) shows that the Democrats still do not trust North Korea. Pelosi’s position is that if Trump makes a wrong pledge without credible promises from the North, (the US-North Korea talks) will result not in denuclearization but in the weakening of the (Seoul-Washington) alliance,” said Cha Du-hyeogn, a visiting scholar at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies, adding that some Republicans are also likely to share such doubts.

Pelosi’s skepticism is in stark contrast to Trump’s usual optimism about negotiations he carries out.

In a recent tweet, Trump once again touted his relationship with Kim and that the North Korean leader was taking his country toward becoming an economic powerhouse.

“North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, will become a great Economic Powerhouse. He may surprise some but he won’t surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is. North Korea will become a different kind of Rocket - an Economic one!” Trump wrote on Feb. 8.

While doubts linger, the two Koreas and the US may be seeking further discussions on establishing a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

According to local cable broadcaster JTBC, Pyongyang and Washington dealt with the possibility of a peace treaty during recent working-level talks in Pyongyang.

Citing unnamed sources, the broadcaster reported that a related clause would likely be included in the agreement reached at the second summit, and that the two sides and South Korea would continue working-level talks on a peace treaty after the summit. 

By Choi He-suk (