South Korea says it will seek to mediate high-level talks between the United States and North Korea after Pyongyang threatened to cancel a planned summit between its leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump.
South Korea’s presidential office said in a statement on Thursday that Seoul will “closely mediate using multiple communication channels with the United States and with North Korea so that the North Korea-US summit can proceed successfully.”
An unnamed Blue House official also said that South Korea would seek to more actively perform “the role of a mediator” between Washington and Pyongyang.
South Korea intends to “sufficiently convey (to the United States) what we’ve discerned about North Korea’s position and attitude... and sufficiently convey the United States’ position to North Korea,” thereby helping to bridge the gap between their positions, the official said.
“Seeing the announced statements and responses from North Korea and the United States, we see the two parties as having a sincere and serious attitude (toward potential reconciliation),” he added.
Pyongyang threatened on Tuesday to scrap plans for what would be a historic meeting between Trump and Kim in Singapore on June 12 over US pressure on the North.
The South Korean offer to mediate between North Korea and the US came as Pyongyang suspended a high-level meeting with Seoul itself.
The talks were supposed to discuss implementing a declaration issued at the end of an April 27 inter-Korea summit, which included interest in the “common goal” of denuclearization.
Pyongyang announced last month that it would decommission a nuclear test site following a thaw in ties with South Korea and Washington as a sign of goodwill. But a failure to reciprocate overtures has upset North Korea.
China ‘hopes’ Kim-Trump meeting will happen as planned
Also on Thursday, Beijing said North Korea and the US had to hold their historic summit as planned.
“The situation on the peninsula has eased up, which is worth cherishing,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing. “We hope... some of the high-level meetings that (the two sides) have been working toward can be held smoothly and... results can be achieved.”
“Only in this way can the easing up of the peninsula be consolidated, contributing to peace and stability in the region,” he added. "All parties concerned should express goodwill toward each other, avoid mutual provocations and further tension.”
The Trump-Kim summit, if it takes place, would mark the first such meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader in history.