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US, North Korea need to talk: experts

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A conversation between the US and North Korea would have significant meaning in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, Chinese observers said Tuesday after Washington on Monday expressed willingness to talk to North Korea.

The US and South Korea have agreed on terms for further engagement and even conversation with North Korea, the Washington Post reported Monday, citing US Vice President Mike Pence.

The still-nascent plan involved "maximum pressure and engagement at the same time," Pence was quoted as saying. "The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization."

"So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we'll talk."

The US' latest plan came amid a warming trend on the peninsula during the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games and would be welcomed by the international community, Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences said.

Kim Jong-un expressed gratitude to South Korea for its sincere efforts when he met a North Korean delegation to the Olympic opening ceremony, North Korea's The Rodong Sinmun reported Tuesday.

Kim also said that it was important to continue building on the good results by improving the warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue created by the strong desire and common will of the north and the south with the Olympics as the momentum.

"The current US attitude has softened compared with its previous position that emphasized building 'maximum pressure' against North Korea," Lü said. "It realized that getting tough could bring negative effects to the peninsula and the US could not benefit from a chaotic peninsula."

The US position had not radically changed, Jin Qiangyi, director of the Asia Research Center at China's Yanbian University in Jilin Province said.

The US has continuously asserted that North Korea must abandon its nuclear weapon program in exchange for direct engagement with the US, according to Jin.

Even though the improvement could last, it also depends on global society's attitude: If the US decided to restart drills, that would frustrate North-South Korean communication, Zheng Jiyong, director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University said.

Lü said that a conversation between the US and North Korea, if it happens, should first focus on reaching a consensus on "suspension-for-suspension," meaning the suspension of nuclear and missile activities by North Korea and the suspension of massive military exercises by the US and South Korea.

"The improving peninsula situation is also welcomed by China, as it reduces the risk of war," Zheng told the Global Times on Tuesday.



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