National Press Club

S. Korean Says N. Korea Wants Normalized Relations with US

September 19, 2009 | By Peter Hickman |

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North Korea wants direct talks with the U.S., to formally end the Korean War and the end to economic sanctions, South Korean legislator Chung Dong-young told a Sept. 18 Newsmaker.

Chung said he thinks it possible to "make North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons by engaging them to exchange their nukes for what they really want."

He recalled his 2005 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in which Kim said, "The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the testament of my father," Kim Il-sung, whose words remain as "the supreme order that nobody can defy."

However, Chung said, that more important than Kim Il-sung's will is thatNorth Korea's recent "signs of dialogue and cooperation to the U.S. and South Korea" are not "merely tactical gestures. They should be seen as an integral part of Pyongyang's consistent policy goal...of creating a favorable external environment for 'survival and prosperity'".

"If we pass up this opportunity," he said, "we should not forget that North Korea will again rush to increase its nuclear capability. We should bear in mind that the more their nuclear capability grows, the more remote will be the possibility of resolving the issue."

Chung said he thinks there are three principles for the U.S. for nuclear resolution: negotiate with Kim Jong-il while he is still in power, rather than wait for an unknown leader who will succeed him; use diplomatic normalization as an important policy tool for denuclearization; and deal directly with Kim Jong-il, as he is the only person in North Korea with the authority to negotiate and assume implementation.

"President Obama, who ran with the slogan of 'change', should make a courageous and bold decision to end the long and hostile relationship with North Korea. Once negotiations make progress, I propose that President Obama invite Chairman Kim Jong-il to Washington." And if that cannot be arranged, he said, Obama and Kim could meet in a third country.