South Korea: North committed to ‘complete denuclearization’ of peninsula

Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday said North Korea had expressed its commitment to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula without seeking any conditions.

Moon said agreements about denuclearization, developing a peace regime and normalizing relations between the two Koreas and the United States should not be difficult to accomplish through summits between the North and South, and between the North and the US.

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The South Korean president is due to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a week’s time, while US President Donald Trump says he will meet with Kim in late May or early June.

North wants ‘end to hostile relations’

“I don’t think denuclearization has different meanings for South and North Korea. The North is expressing a will for a complete denuclearization,” Moon said during a lunch with chief executives of Korean media companies.

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“They have not attached any conditions that the US cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea. All they are talking about is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security,” Moon continued.

‘Maximum pressure campaign’ 

Moon’s comments came as a US ambassador said his country was maintaining a “maximum pressure campaign” to persuade Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Robert Wood, the top US envoy to the United Nations-hosted Conference on Disarmament, said the US believes the ongoing pressure campaign “has had an important impact in the North’s decision to return to the table.”

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Speaking at a news conference on Thursday ahead of a meeting next week on nuclear non-proliferation, Wood said the US welcomed Pyongyang’s willingness to discuss denuclearization, and called the summit due to take place in the near future a “momentous time.”

Trump said on Wednesday that he is prepared to walk out of the talks if they aren’t “fruitful.”

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North Korea has continued its nuclear and missile programs despite UN Security Council resolutions, and says they are a necessary deterrent against perceived US hostility. The US stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War. 

Over the past few years, the North has said it could consider giving up its nuclear weapons if the US removed its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called “nuclear umbrella of deterrence” from South Korea and Japan.

Since 1991, US nuclear weapons are no longer physically stationed on South Korea soil, although the region is covered under Washington’s nuclear umbrella via submarines and military planes.

law/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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