US President Donald Trump said after the first intra-Korean talks in over two years that the United States was willing to speak to North Korea “under the right circumstances”, although it was far from clear whether this would pay dividends, Reuters reports.
South Korea said Trump had also said in a phone call with its President Moon Jae-in that there would be no military action while North-South talks were going on and that a Wall Street Journal article saying he was contemplating a military strike against North Korea was “completely wrong”.
“Who knows where it leads?” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday after his call with Moon to discuss Tuesday’s North-South talks, the first since 2015.
He said Moon told him the talks went well, and added: “Hopefully it will lead to success for the world, not just for our country, but for the world. And we’ll be seeing over the next number of weeks and months what happens.”
At a later news conference with the visiting Norwegian prime minister, Trump said the United States had problems with North Korea, but “a lot of good talks are going on right now.”
“I see a lot of good energy. I like it very much … So, hopefully, a lot of good things are going to work out.”
“I think that we will have peace through strength,” he said, a reference to his policy of maintaining a powerful US military.
South Korea’s Presidential Blue House said both men had said the dialogue “could naturally lead to talks between the United States and North Korea for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics”.
At Tuesday’s intra-Korea talks, North Korea said it would attend the Olympics, which South Korea will host next month, while both sides agreed to resolve problems between them through dialogue and to revive military consultations to avoid accidental conflict.
However, Pyongyang said it would not discuss its nuclear weapons because they were aimed only at the United States and not its “brethren” in South Korea, or Russia or China, showing that a diplomatic breakthrough to the crisis remained far off.
While Washington has welcomed the talks as a first step toward solving the crisis over North Korea’s program to develop nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States, it has reiterated that any talks involving the US must be aimed at North Korea’s denuclearization.
The White House said Trump told Moon the US was willing to talk to North Korea “at the appropriate time and under the right circumstances”.
Trump, who has swung between hurling insults and threats at North Korea to expressing a willingness to talk, said on Saturday he would be willing to speak to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, though not without pre-conditions.
An unsourced article in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday said US officials were debating whether it was possible to mount a limited military strike against North Korea without igniting an all-out war.
The Trump administration has said it prefers a diplomatic solution, but that all options are on the table, including military ones.
US officials say Trump has been considering a number of military options, including a preemptive strike on a missile or nuclear facility, but officials and analysts have warned of the risks of triggering a catastrophic wider conflict.
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