The United States and North Korea are evaluating the possibility of exchanging "liaison" officials, a sort of special envoys who would lay the foundations for diplomatic relations in the future if the current climate of detente continues, CNN reported on Monday. This news comes a week before the summit to be held on February 27 and 28 in Hanoi (Vietnam) by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and the US president, Donald Trump.
CNN quoted two high-level diplomatic sources as saying that Washington and Pyongyang are "seriously considering" taking that measure, which would be the first case to fulfill the objective of "establishing new diplomatic relations", agreed during the first summit between Trump and Kim last year in Singapore.
The United States is willing, in particular, to send several "liaison" officers to a new office in North Korea, led by a Korean foreign service official who speaks Korean.
Last September, the two Koreas inaugurated a joint liaison office in the city of Kaesong, north of the border between the two, in order to maintain a permanent channel of communication and strengthen ties.
If Trump and Kim give their approval to this plan, their countries would return to a situation similar to the one they lived in 1994, when the US and North Korea began a long negotiation to open interest offices in their respective capitals.
Washington even signed a lease to establish its office at the German embassy in Pyongyang, but in late 1995, North Korea canceled the plan in the face of rising military tensions, CNN recalled.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Trump is also interested in leaving the summit in Hanoi with a declaration of peace between the two Koreas, which are still technically at war since the armistice of 1953, although it would be a political document and not of a binding treaty.
But the big question for many analysts is whether the US and North Korea will manage to adopt at the summit a road map to carry out the denuclearization of the hermetic country, an objective agreed in Singapore and on which no clear progress has been made so far.
In exchange for taking measures in this regard, Pyonyang demands concessions from Washington, such as the relief of sanctions imposed by the United States and the UN as punishment for their weapons tests.
As a sign of the possibility of this new step, the US government announced that a new round of trade negotiations with China will take place in Washington, following those held last week in Beijing. China has been a tacit intermediary between Korea and the North American country
In a statement, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that President Donald Trump announced that the country will welcome a delegation from China, which will begin talks at the level of undersecretaries led by the attached representative of Foreign Trade, Jeffrey Gerrish.
The high-level contacts will begin on February 21, the statement added, and detailed that the United States will be led by Foreign Trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and will include Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and Commerce Wilbur Ross. Also there will be Larry Kudlow, the assistant of the president Trump for the economic policy, and Peter Navarro, the assistant of the governor for the commercial policy.
At the conclusion of the third round of negotiations on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that "great progress" was made, according to the state agency Xinhua, that Trump established the beginning of March as the deadline for an agreement with China, in addition to warning that if it were not produced, it would raise the tariffs imposed on Chinese products valued at 200,000 million dollars from 10% to 25%.
Trump has remarked that it would be an "honor" to withdraw these tariffs if a pact with Beijing is finally reached. Xi and Trump agreed on December 1 a truce of 90 days, which means that the deadline to close a final commercial pact expires on March 1.
The president agreed in December to temporarily suspend the increase in tariffs on these Chinese products, but warned that he would go ahead with his plan if the agreement was not closed within the stipulated period.
China has adopted several measures of goodwill to close an agreement, such as the lowering of tariffs on imported US vehicles, the resumption of the purchase of soy from this country or the presentation of a bill to prohibit the transfer forced technology.