Guarded optimism is emerging for possible dialogue between the United States and North Korea, as South Korea pushes to broker talks through a rare dispatch of special emissaries to the communist state this week.
Experts said both Washington and Pyongyang could seek to use the growing momentum for dialogue as the former hopes to tackle evolving nuclear threats from the reclusive state and the latter scrambles to break out of its isolation and end global sanctions.
But they warned that the U.S.’s insistence that the North clearly display its commitment to denuclearization as a precondition for any talks, as well as the North’s pursuit of recognition as a nuclear power, could stymie their reconciliation efforts.
Seoul’s presidential office said Sunday that its five-member high-level delegation will embark on a two-day trip to Pyongyang on Monday. The delegation will be led by Chung Eui-yong, the head of the presidential National Security Office, and includes Suh Hoon, the chief of the National Intelligence Service.
“Central to the prospect of U.S.-North Korea dialogue will be how much willingness to denuclearize North Korea will be shown during the South Korean delegation’s visit this week,” Park Won-gon, a security expert at Handong Global University, said.
“Since late last year, the North has not engaged in any strategic provocations, and it is aware of the need for talks with the U.S. and aware of the fact that they do need to take some steps to pave the way for talks … Plus, they might not want to break the momentum for dialogue,” he added.