By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- The incoming U.S. administration of Joe Biden should recognize the progress made with North Korea so far and reengage the North in denuclearization talks to build on such progress, a former U.S. nuclear negotiator said Tuesday.
Joseph DeTrani also argued North Korea would be willing to come back to the negotiating table.
"President Donald Trump and his two summits had success, certainly in Singapore, with that joint statement, that declaration coming out of Singapore that spoke about a transformation of a relationship with the United States, peace on the Korean Peninsula, complete verifiable denuclearization," the former U.S. official said in a webinar co-sponsored by the Washington Times Foundation and the Universal Peace Federation's International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace.
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held their first-ever summit in Singapore in June 2018.
"That's an important success, and we should not lose sight of that," DeTrani added.
Trump and Kim met again in Hanoi in February 2019 but their second meeting ended without any deal. Their talks have since stalled.
DeTrani said North Korea will likely be willing to return to the negotiating table if reached out by the Biden administration.
"If the North Koreans would be willing to come back to negotiations, and I believe they will be willing to come back, and I believe that President Biden will be reaching out to North Korea, and encouraging them to reengage so that our leaders, senior negotiators from the United States could sit down with their counterparts in North Korea to determine if North Korea is still serious about the Singapore statement of June, 2018," he told the virtual seminar.
"Because if they are, then there could be progress," he added.
DeTrani served as the United State's special envoy for six-party denuclearization talks with North Korea from 2003 to 2006 before working as North Korea mission manager at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence until 2010.
He insisted the process of completely ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons would be a "long process."
"And we learn from the failed Hanoi summit in February 2019 that it's not going to be complete, verifiable denuclearization as was the case with Libya. It's not going to be immediate. It's going to be a long process," said DeTrani.
He stressed the importance of getting the process moving forward, and also through close cooperation with South Korea.
"I think if we could get North Korea to move towards complete, verifiable denuclearization...I see no problem with the United States side coming out with the support of South Korea," DeTrani said. "I think we just have to be totally in sync with South Korea and all these issues here, because this is the Korean Peninsula."
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