With tensions once again flaring up between the United States and North Korea, it was reported Tuesday that former U.S. president Jimmy Carter has offered to meet with leader Kim Jong-un to discuss ways to achieve peace.
The revelation comes by way of South Korean news outlet JoongAng Ilbo, which spoke with Park Han-shik, a prominent scholar on North Korean-related issues. Park previously helped Carter plan diplomatic trips to the country in 1994 and 2010.
JoongAng Ilbo writes that Park met with the former president at his home in Georgia on September 28, and it was there that Carter reportedly expressed his wishes.
“Should former President Carter be able to visit North Korea, he would like to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and discuss a peace treaty between the United States and the North and a complete denuclearization of North Korea,” Park told the outlet, “and contribute toward establishing a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”
Earlier in September, while speaking before gatherers at his Carter Center in Atlanta, the former president was highly critical of the Trump administration, particularly in the area of foreign policy. Then, last week, Carter penned an editorial for The Washington Post in which he addressed North Korea directly.
Carter wrote that his more than 20 years’ worth of experience in dealing with the North taught him that what the country’s leadership wants more than anything is direct talks with the U.S. that would lead to a permanent peace treaty.
Technically, the agreement to cease the Korean War in 1953 was only an armistice, and the two countries are still at war.
The former president says that, indeed, “the preservation of their regime” is priority one for the government in Pyongyang, and current strategies that attempt to de-escalate the situation are failing because the North Korean leadership “believes its survival is at stake.”
Carter says what’s needed now is for the U.S. to “send a high-level delegation to Pyongyang for peace talks or to support an international conference” of all the relevant regional players, including China.
In his piece, Carter doesn’t nominate himself to lead such an effort, but if Tuesday’s report out of South Korea is accurate, he seems willing to fill the role.
He would need permission from the federal government, however, as a ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea went into effect in September.