‘North Korea’s overture could be aimed at dividing allies’
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The head of U.S. forces in South Korea warned on Thursday against raising hopes over North Korea’s peace overture amid a war of words between the U.S. and the reclusive North over its nuclear and missile programmes.
In a New Year address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he was open to dialogue with U.S. ally South Korea and could send a delegation to the Winter Olympics to be held in the South in February.
In response, Seoul on Tuesday proposed high-level talks at a border village and on Wednesday, the two Koreas reopened a border hotline that had been closed since February 2016.
“We must keep our expectations at the appropriate level,” the chief of United States Forces Korea, Vincent Brooks, was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying in an address to a university in Seoul.
Mr. Brooks said the overture was a strategy to divide five countries — the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia — for North Korea to reach its goal of being accepted as a “nuclear capable” nation. He added that it was important for the U.S. and South Korea to maintain an “ironclad and razor-sharp” alliance.
The White House on Wednesday defended Mr. Trump’s tweet, saying, in answer to a question, Americans should be concerned about Mr. Kim’s mental fitness, not their President’s.
Mr. Trump, despite having dismissed the chances of talks leading to a solution, on Thursday took credit for any possible dialogue between North and South. “Does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North,” Mr. Trump tweeted, adding that “talks are a good thing!”
U.S. officials had responded coolly to North Korea’s suggestion of talks and the State Department said Pyongyang “might be trying to drive a wedge” between Washington and Seoul.
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