The Insider

White House urges 'deep breath' on talks between North and South Korea

By Tony Bertuca  
March 6, 2018 at 4:54 PM

The Trump administration expects to have further discussions in the coming week with South Korean officials about high-level diplomatic talks they have begun with North Korea, but a senior White House official urged skepticism and calm.

“It's a good idea for everybody to keep some perspective, take a deep breath,” the senior White House official told reporters. “We have about 27 years of history of talking to the North Koreans and there's also a 27-year history of them breaking every agreement they've ever made. The North Koreans have earned our skepticism, so we're a bit guarded in our optimism.”

The official said total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula remained the Trump administration's unshakable position.

“Our posture toward the regime will not change until we see credible moves toward denuclearization,” the official said. “If the North Korean regime is serious about denuclearization, then its words will be met with actions.”

The official said the willingness of Kim Jong Un's regime to begin talking to its southern neighbor was the result of the “maximum pressure” campaign inflicted by ongoing sanctions.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has yet to nominate a U.S. ambassador to South Korea and the official did not speculate on who would lead any potential talks with the Kim regime or what would be necessary to make them happen.

“There's not much I can say right now, mainly because I don't want to get ahead of the president,” the official said.