US Special Envoy to visit Seoul on denuclearization progress

"The United States must now recognize the accurate meaning of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and especially, must study geography", the statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

"It is obvious that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a joint business that can not be achieved unless both Korea and the United States strive tougher", the commentary states.

The KCNA commentary said that "when talking about the Korean peninsula, it encompasses not only our republic's territory but also South Korea where the American nuclear weapons and armed forces for invasion are spread out".

Since his June meeting with Kim, Trump has claimed progress in negotiations with North Korea, but talks appear to have stalled as Pyongyang has been demanding the removal of global sanctions as a precondition for denuclearization. So, contrary to what the South Korean president is claiming, it seems Kim does consider the presence of US troops in the region to be a "nuclear threat". He wasn't expected to meet with North Korean officials at the village, which is often used for diplomacy between the allies and North Korea.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun speaks to the media upon his arrival at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Dec. 19, 2018.

But follow-up talks have struggled to build on the ambiguous statement, and North Korea declared Thursday it would never give up its nuclear weapons unless the USA takes reciprocal steps, The Associated Press reported.

At a press briefing in Washington on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said he would not "split words" when asked about whether the promise of "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" means only North Korea or the broader region. "We are just asking the United States to put an end to its hostile policies (on North Korea) and remove the unjust sanctions, things it can do even without a snap of a finger".

The State Department cancelled a much-anticipated meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean official Kim Yong Chol in November with little explanation, saying the meeting "will now take place at a later date".

Kim and President Donald Trump met June 12 in Singapore where they issued a vague goal for the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur. "We remain confident and we look forward to the commitments that Chairman Kim and that President Trump have made".

As if we there weren't already enough foreign policy drama happening today, North Korea announced that it has no intention of following through on an agreement to denuclearize unless the USA removes U.S. soldiers from the region.

The North has yet to respond to Biegun's comments.

The North Korean statement came a day after Stephen Biegun, the Trump administration's special envoy, told reporters in South Korea that Washington was considering easing travel restrictions on the hermit state to ease humanitarian shipments and help resolve the impasse in nuclear negotiations.

"I understand that many humanitarian aid organizations, operating in the DPRK, are concerned that strict enforcement of global sanctions has occasionally impeded the delivery of legitimate humanitarian assistance to the Korean people", Biegun said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

One of the agendas for the meeting was the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for railway and road connections coming up on December 26th.

  • Tracy Klein