Former President Jimmy Carter urged the U.S. to find common ground toward peace with North Korea as the countries’ leaders ratcheted up their belligerent back-and-forth this week.
Mr. Carter, who has visited the rogue regime three times after his presidency to broker various agreements, said both sides must do everything they can to restore dialogue and avoid nuclear confrontation.
The 92-year-old former president interjected his views in a statement days after North Korea’s Kim Jong Un said he would fire missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, while President Donald Trump threatened “fire and fury” in response to any attack.
Mr. Carter said the bluster had probably already “eliminated any change of good faith peace talks.”
But he still urged restraint and dialogue, especially involving other stakeholders.
In addition to restraining the warlike rhetoric, our leaders need to encourage talks between North Korea and other countries, especially China and Russia. The recent UN Security Council unanimous vote for new sanctions suggests that these countries could help. In all cases, a nuclear exchange must be avoided. All parties must assure North Koreans they we will forego any military action against them if North Korea remains peaceful.
Based on more than 20 hours of discussions with Mr. Kim’s father and grandfather, North Korea’s former leaders, Mr. Carter said he believes that the country for years has wanted a peace treaty to replace the ceasefire signed at the end of the Korean War.
The U.S. should be prepared to negotiate with that objective in view, he said in ending his statement.
“A commitment to peace by the United States and North Korea is crucial. When this confrontational crisis is ended, the United States should be prepared to consummate a permanent treaty to replace the ceasefire of 1953. The United States should make this clear, to North Koreans and to our allies.”
Earlier in the statement, Mr. Carter also seemed to undercut the key tenet of Mr. Trump’s strategy for containing North Korea: Forcing China to use its economic sway to rein in the regime.
“The influence of China in Pyongyang seems to be greatly reduced since Kim Jong Un became the North Korean leader in December 2011,” he said without further elaboration.
Read the full statement here.