North Korea dangles denuclearization to try to get payoffs

Envoys from Seoul said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un told them he was ready to suspend weapons tests and hold candid talks with the U.S. to normalize relations, if the safety of his regime was guaranteed, the South Korean government said Tuesday. In response, South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to meet Kim for a summit along their shared border late next month.

‘Hope Springs Eternal’

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said at a Senate hearing Tuesday that “hope springs eternal” but the U.S needed to learn “a lot more” about the potential talks.

A Trump administration official said the U.S. is willing to engage with North Korea but would emphasize that the demand for the complete and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons is non-negotiable. The official, who discussed the new diplomatic possibilities on condition of anonymity, said there’s a long way to go.

Analysts cautioned that North Korea has a history of using negotiations to buy time for its weapons program and secure sanctions relief. The Kim dynasty has over the years raised the prospect of abandoning its nuclear-weapons program if the U.S. gave up its hostile policies. Serious negotiations haven’t taken place since so-called six-party talks — also including China, Japan and Russia — broke down in 2009.