North Korea Leader Says He Wants 'Denuclearization'

Thursday, September 20th 2018, 7:32 am
By: News On 6

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has told his South Korean counterpart that he wants to "complete denuclearization quickly and focus on economic development," according to the South Korean leader. Upon his return from a three-day summit with Kim in North Korea, President Moon Jae-in told reporters in his own capital city of Seoul on Thursday that Kim was keen to arrange a second meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump "in the near future, in order to move the denuclearisation process along quickly." 

The leaders of the rival Koreas took to the road earlier Thursday for the final day of their summit, standing on the peak of a beautiful volcano used as a centerpiece of propaganda to legitimize the Kim family's rule, their hands clasped and raised in a pose of triumph. Their trip to the mountain on the North Korean-Chinese border, and the striking photo-op that will resonate in both Koreas, followed a day of wide-ranging agreements they trumpeted as a major step toward peace.

However, their premier accord on the issue that most worries the world -- the North's pursuit of nuclear-tipped missiles that can accurately strike the U.S. mainland -- contained a big condition: Kim stated that he would permanently dismantle North Korea's main nuclear facility only if the United States takes unspecified corresponding measures.

Kim promised this week to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon, and both leaders vowed to work together to try to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

But while containing several tantalizing offers, their joint statement on Wednesday appeared to fall short of the major steps many in Washington have been looking for -- such as a commitment by Kim to provide a list of North Korea's nuclear facilities, a solid step-by-step timeline for closing them down, or an agreement to allow international inspectors to assess progress or discover violations.

It also was unclear what "corresponding steps" North Korea wants from the U.S. to dismantle its nuclear site.

Nonetheless, the Trump administration appeared keen to pick up where Moon has left off. Mr. Trump told reporters Wednesday that the outcome of the summit was "very good news" and that "we're making tremendous progress" with North Korea. He didn't indicate in his brief remarks whether the U.S. would be willing to take further steps to encourage North Korean action on denuclearization.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday after the summit in Pyongyang that he had extended an invitation to North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week in New York. Pompeo congratulated Moon and Kim on their summit and said that, "on the basis of these important commitments, the United States is prepared to engage immediately in negotiations to transform U.S.-DPRK relations."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.