The South Korean government hopes that Washington will be “more considerate” of issues raised by North Korea in the future, a senior official at the Blue House said on Thursday.
The comments followed a standing committee meeting of the South’s National Security Council (NSC) held at 0700 local time and convened by national security adviser Chung Eui-yong.
The meeting came a day after a senior North Korean diplomat warned the country “cannot but reconsider” its decision to participate in a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump slated to take place on June 12 in Singapore and the DPRK’s last-minute cancelation of planned high-level inter-Korean talks.
“The members of the standing committee has decided to closely coordinate the positions through various channels between the ROK and the U.S. as well as the South and the North so that upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit can be proceeded successfully based on the spirit of mutual respect,” the Blue House said in a statement following the meeting.
A senior official at the presidential office later said the meeting had seen officials agree “that the U.S. and North Korea should put themselves in the other’s shoes.”
“It appears that there has been a difference between their positions as North Korea and the U.S. proceed with the meeting,” the official told media at a closed-door briefing following the NSC meeting.
“This means there should be an attitude and stance of understanding the situation from the other side to resolve the issue.”
When asked if the Blue House believed the Trump administration should be more flexible in the face of North Korean demands, the official responded in the affirmative.
“It means it would be better if [the U.S.] was more considerate of the issues raised by North Korea,” they said, while stressing that Seoul expected this attitude to be reciprocal.
Wednesday saw Kim Kye Gwan, the longtime DPRK chief nuclear negotiator to the stalled Six-Party Talks, denounce officials at the U.S. State Department and the White House for, among other things, raising the possibility of a “Libyan model” for North Korean denuclearization.
Despite this apparent setback, Seoul on Thursday insisted the summit would go ahead.
“We believe that there is no major change in the North’s stance on holding dialogue,” the South Korean presidential office said in its statement.
The official also said following the meeting that the South Korean government would more actively “play the role of mediator” between Washington and Pyongyang to reconcile differences in opinion between the two parties.
A planned summit between Moon and President Trump on May 22 will be an opportunity to resolve some of these issues, they added.
Thursday also saw members of the NSC standing committee discuss Seoul’s ongoing response to the North’s surprise decision to pull out of a high-level inter-Korean meeting just hours before it was due to begin.
Pyongyang notified the South Korean government of its decision to cancel the meeting at 0030 local time on Wednesday, citing the ongoing joint U.S.-ROK Max Thunder military exercise.
“The members reaffirmed the stance that the Panmunjom Declaration agreed at the South-North summit on April 27 should be implemented without setbacks,” the Blue House said in a statement.
“[They] agreed to continue the discussion with the North to hold the inter-Korean high-level meeting immediately.”
NSC standing committee members on Thursday also reportedly agreed to proceed with inter-Korean events as planned, including the planned observation by ROK journalist of the dismantlement of the Punggye-ri nuclear test ground – due to take place next week – and preparations for a joint ceremony marking the June 15 Joint Declaration.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: U.S. Air Force
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