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Groundwork key to success of 2nd US-N. Korea summit: ex-special representative

Joseph Yun (Mainichi/Hojin Fukunaga)

TOKYO -- Preliminary groundwork aimed at ensuring the viability of any denuclearization agreement will be key to the success of a second U.S.-North Korea summit, former U.S. special representative for North Korea policy Joseph Yun told the Mainichi Shimbun in a recent interview.

According to Yun, a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could not be regarded as a success unless they reach a specific agreement on a process for denuclearizing North Korea. He also underscored the importance of prior consultations, including those between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Workers' Party of Korea Deputy Chairman Kim Yong Chol, expected to take place in Washington on Jan. 18.

Yun was appointed as special representative in October 2016 by the previous administration of President Barack Obama. However, he resigned during Trump's first year in office after clashing with the new president over his aggressive stance toward Pyongyang.

Yun acknowledged the first U.S.-North Korea summit in June 2018 eased bilateral tensions and lessened the risk of war. However, he also pointed out that the summit outcome came as a disappointment to many people because the leaders did not agree on a road map toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. He then called for concrete progress in the next meeting.

Yun also stated that the Trump administration is highly unlikely to pull U.S. troops out of South Korea as a compromise with Pyongyang, pointing out that the alliance between Washington and Seoul and the presence of U.S. troops in the South are supported by the American public as serving U.S. interests.

Yun expressed pessimism about the prospect of Kim abandoning North Korea's nuclear weapons. He said that Kim would give up nuclear arms only if his safety and the survival of his administration were guaranteed, but that he does not think that will be possible.

(Japanese original by Hojin Fukunaga, Foreign News Department)

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