The two-day summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that begins Thursday signals that Pyongyang has chosen China over South Korea as a mediator for denuclearization talks with the US, Thae Yong-ho, a former deputy North Korean ambassador to the UK, said in an interview with Dong-A Ilbo, a South Korean daily.
“The summit taking place between Xi and Kim means North Korea has switched its mediator partner from South Korea to China. China will try to resolve the issue in its own perspective,” Thae said.
As the reason behind the change, Thae cited Pyongyang’s disappointment over the US’ rejection of South Korea’s proposal for the resumption of the inter-Korean industrial park in Kaesong, North Korea.
“From that case on, Pyongyang began to think that the ‘Moon Jae-in card’ does not work,” Thae said, adding that it could be unfavorable for South Korea if the third US-North Korea summit is carried out with Seoul’s role minimized.
In another interview with Japanese news outlet Mainichi Shimbun, Thae said the North Korean leader would deliver a new negotiation proposal to the United States via China.
The new proposal to the United States would include abolishing nuclear facilities that were not mentioned during the previous summits, Thae added.
US President Donald Trump and Kim met in Hanoi, Vietnam, for their second summit in late February, but they were not able to reduce differences in the scope of denuclearization and sanctions relief for North Korea.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)