Marking the historic inter-Korean summit, the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism (KCIJ)-Newstapa recently interviewed Bill Richardson, veteran U.S.-North Korea negotiator and former U.S. Ambassador to United Nations, to discuss the impact the two Koreas’ talk will have on the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit and its future tasks.
Richardson said that President Moon Jae-in’s diplomacy, which leveraged recent Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, largely contributed to the arranging of the inter-Korean summit and the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit, at an interview held at the 2018 Arms Control Association Annual Meeting, which took place in Washington D.C. on April 19.
The inter-Korean summit is a significant opportunity for the U.S. that would help Washington understand a set of agenda Pyeongyang hopes to discuss at the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit, he said.
Richardson viewed that Kim Jong Un will participate in the summit as part of his ‘end game,’ mentioning that Washington so far has ‘underestimated’ Kim. In the end game, he analyzed that Kim would hope to bargain ways to stay in power, end the 1953 Armistice Agreement and to generate economic assistance from neighboring countries.
He forecast that Pyeongyang is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, but emphasized that it is worth holding the U.S.-North Korea summit if it could ease military confrontation potentials.
Instead trying to achieve a complete success on the day of summit, Richardson emphasized that both Pyeongyang and Washington should consider this summit as a first step of years-long negotiating process. He suggested that the upcoming summit must be considered an opportunity of building mutual trust and positive ties through humanitarian measures such as release of American detainees and returning remains of American soldiers during the Korean War.
Richardson is a veteran North Korea negotiator, often referred as the ‘North Korea troubleshooter’ by the U.S. news outlets. He served as former U.S. Ambassador to United Nations, and has vast experiences of communicating with high-level North Korean officials. He visited Pyeongyang 8 times to negotiate issues including release of American detainees and return of the remains of American soldiers who fought during the Korean War.
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