US, North Korea still far apart in denuclearization

Linh Pham | Getty Images

A worker at the t-shirt store of Truong Thanh Duc dry the newly printed t-shirts with the portraits of U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on February 21, 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are meeting in Vietnam this week for the second time in less than a year, in a bid to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

But experts say they don’t have high expectations from this week’s meeting, set to take place in Hanoi on Wednesday and Thursday.

Washington has demanded that Pyongyang abandon all its nuclear and missile programs, while North Korea wants crippling sanctions to be removed as part of denuclearization negotiations.

“So far, North Korea seems only willing to take measures that limit its nuclear and missile capabilities, it has no indications that it wants to roll back or undercut its existing nuclear arsenal or missile arsenal,” Tong Zhao, a fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, told CNBC on Tuesday.

However, the meeting will be timely for the two sides to negotiate some meaningful progress so that Pyongyang is held back from taking “risky and destabilizing nuclear postures,” said Zhao. Measures that could yield some results include capping further development of nuclear weapons, he told CNBC.

“The only way that North Korea can be reassured about its own security is for the U.S.-(North Korea) bilateral relationship to be fundamentally transformed from a hostile one to a friendly one,” said Zhao.

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