South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong returned home Friday after wrapping up his first meeting with US counterpart John Bolton, describing it as “conducive” amid preparations for separate US and South Korean summits with North Korea.
During a meeting with reporters at Incheon Airport, Chung said he and Bolton reaffirmed that there is “no difference” between Seoul and Washington in achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and making the upcoming summits a success.
“In order to achieve the goal of establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula by denuclearization, we reaffirmed that there is no difference in basic directions that both countries should pursue,” Chung told reporters.
Chung left open the possibility that there may be a separate US-South Korea summit before the first-ever meeting between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump, saying he consulted with Bolton about “various possibilities.”
|South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong (left) and his US counterpart John Bolton(center) and Japense counterpart Shotaro Yachi. Yonhap|
The meeting came amid efforts between North Korea and the US to hammer out the details of the first meeting between Kim and Trump. Trump had said he would meet the North’s Kim Jong-un in May or early June.
Chung, who arrived in Washington on Wednesday for his first meeting with Bolton, declined to comment on details of their discussions, including the summit venue and agenda. The US and North Korea have kicked off working-level discussions on the issues.
The White House National Security Council confirmed the meeting between Chung and Bolton, saying the participants pledged “close coordination.” Bolton met separately with his Japanese counterpart Shotaro Yachi, NSC said.
Cho Yoon-je, South Korea‘s ambassador to the US, told reporters there that there was no trilateral meeting of the three countries’ security chiefs. The talk between Chung and Bolton lasted for about an hour, Cho added.
Last month, Chung led the South Korean delegation to meet with Kim Jong-un and then traveled to the US to convey to President Donald Trump an invitation for a summit from Kim, who had expressed willingness through Chung to discuss denuclearization and the halting of nuclear and missile tests.
It was Chung’s first meeting with Bolton since he took office as NSC chief, replacing H.R. McMaster, who had maintained close coordination with Chung during the turbulent times of North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations.
South Korean officials have been wary of Trump’s appointment of Bolton, who had called for regime change in North Korea and previously been rejected as a negotiating partner by Pyongyang. Bolton is one of the major players making preparations for the Trump-Kim summit.
After being named to his new role last month, Bolton accused Pyongyang of seeking to “buy more time” through talks with the US to complete its nuclear program and asserted that Washington must use the summit to “cut to the chase” on the denuclearization process.
By Yeo Jun-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)