In this Sunday, March 31, 2013 photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 1, 2013, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives a speech in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Photo: AP)
(TheBlaze/AP) -- The United States and Japan opened the door Sunday to new nuclear talks with North Korea if the saber-rattling country lowers tensions and honors past agreements, even as it rejected South Korea's latest offer of dialogue as a "crafty trick."
But though North Korea is dominating international headlines, its leader Kim Jong Un apparently hasn't been seen in public for over two weeks.
The Atlantic Wire reported:
In fact, the country's supreme leader has basically been absent from the public eye altogether, so much so that there are whispers of a coup. That hardly seems likely based on what we've seen the North Korean army doing on the ground, but it's curious nonetheless.
It's not entirely out of the question for Kim Jong Un to lay low. He's called a "strange hermit king" for a reason. However, it's kind of an important moment for North Korea. In recent weeks, the country's repeatedly threatened a nuclear attack on the Untied States and most recently aimed its guns at Japan. Kim Jong Un's been checked out, though, and some say it's all a part of the intimidation strategy. Kim hasn't been seen in public since April 1, when he led a session of parliament. Pyongyang's been busy in the meantime, shutting down factories, prepping for a fourth nuclear test and moving missiles towards the U.S. South Korea's Yonhap news agency says that the leader's absence amounts to "psychological warfare that could grab attention from South Korea and the United States."
Regardless, international leaders are scrambling to work out an arrangement with the country and its reportedly reclusive leader.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Tokyo that North Korea would find "ready partners" in the United States if it began abandoning its nuclear program.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping shortly before their meetings at the Great Hall of the People Saturday, April 13, 2013 in Beijing. (Photo: AP)
"I'm not going to be so stuck in the mud that an opportunity to actually get something done is flagrantly wasted because of a kind of predetermined stubbornness," he told U.S.-based journalists.
"You have to keep your mind open. But fundamentally, the concept is they're going to have to show some kind of good faith here so we're not going to around and around in the same-old, same-old," he said.
In remarks to U.S. journalists, Kerry said that under the right circumstances, he even would consider making a grand overture to North Korea's leader, such as an offer of direct talks with the U.S.
"We're prepared to reach out," he said.
Kerry also clarified a statement he made Saturday in Beijing, when he told reporters the U.S. could scale back its missile-defense posture in the region if North Korea goes nuclear-free.
It appeared to be a sweetener to coax tougher action from a Chinese government which has eyed the increased U.S. military presence in its backyard warily, but which has done little over the years to snuff out funding and support for North Korea's weapons of mass destruction program.
Kerry said America's basic force posture wasn't up to debate. "There is no discussion that I know of to change that," he said.
But he said it was logical that additional missile-defense elements, deployed specifically in response to the Korean threat, could be reversed if that threat no longer existed.
"I was simply making an observation about the rationale for that particular deployment, which is to protect the United States' interests that are directly threatened by North Korea," he said.