After weeks of belligerent rhetoric, North Korea took a pause Tuesday. But where is the mercurial Kim Jong Un headed next? U.S. officials are debating whether he may want direct talks with Washington about a formal treaty to replace the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.
The United States has been pursuing a dual path, threatening military conflict (semi-believably because of President Trump’s verbal thunderbolts) while also urging stabilization of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. The diplomatic trick here is simultaneously reassuring North Korea, China, South Korea and Japan that their vital interests would be protected.
This process of negotiation was hinted at Sunday by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, they warned North Korea to “take a new path toward peace, prosperity and international acceptance,” or face increased isolation.