On the day after confirmation that CIA Director Mike Pompeo preemptively (that is, before he is confirmed as secretary of state) met with Kim Jong-un and discussed denuclearization, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is spilling some diplomatic goods. That is to say, Moon told reporters that he believes that the upcoming summits (between the Koreas and between North Korea and the U.S.) will reach desired goals on both sides because, as Moon says, Kim wants to put down the nukes. Via Reuters:
“North Korea is expressing a will for a complete denuclearization. They have not attached any conditions that the U.S. cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea. All they are expressing is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security.”
Naturally, North Korea appears keen to end the harsh sanctions levied against them by the U.S. and the U.N. Hence the mention by Moon that North Korea apparently isn’t requesting for U.S. troops to withdraw from South Korea before (ideally) denuclearizing the entire Korean peninsula. The New York Times points out that such a demand “has always been a nonstarter” in negotiations, so it seems that Kim isn’t even going to go there.
Although the timing of South Korea’s news arrives after Pompeo’s clandestine meeting, it’s likely that Kim Jong-un has been tip-toeing in this direction for months. There’s little other reason for the famously reclusive leader to embrace South Korean culture by attending a K-pop concert if he didn’t intend to change up how his regime operates. There’s still the unaddressed detail of what shall happen to the three American detainees who are currently being held by North Korea — a topic that shall no doubt arise at the upcoming summits.