U.S. hopes for ‘meaningful, verifiable’ steps toward N.K. denuclearization

September 18, 2018

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) — The United States said Tuesday that it hopes to see “meaningful” and “verifiable” steps toward the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program through this week’s meeting between the two Korean leaders.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the ongoing summit in Pyongyang between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is an “historic opportunity” for Kim to follow through on the denuclearization commitments he made previously.

It was the first response out of Washington since Moon and Kim sat down Tuesday for their third meeting. The two will hold another session Wednesday before announcing the outcome of their talks.

The high-stakes meeting is being closely watched for any firm commitments from Kim that could break the current impasse in denuclearization negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.

This file photo shows U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. (Yonhap)

“We hope to see meaningful, verifiable steps toward the denuclearization of North Korea,” Nauert said during a regular press briefing.

The summit “represents, in our view, an historic opportunity for Chairman Kim to follow through on the commitments that he made to President Trump at the Singapore summit, but also the commitments that he made in Panmunjom, with meaningful and verifiable actions toward the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea,” she added.

At the Singapore summit in June, Kim agreed to work toward “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S. He made the same commitment at his first summit with Moon, held at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom in April.

But implementation of the Singapore agreement has stalled as Washington and Pyongyang insist the other side move first.

In a commentary Tuesday, the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling party, said the U.S. is wholly to blame for the current deadlock in negotiations and called on Washington to drop what it called unilateral demands to abandon its nuclear weapons.

“The secretary has talked about how this will be a process. We recognize this,” Nauert said, referring to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We go into this eyes wide open. We think that there is progress being made when the South Koreans are sitting down with North Korea, when the United States has the opportunity to sit down with North Korea.”

While noting that she doesn’t want to comment further on a meeting that is still ongoing, the spokeswoman remarked in jest on the motorcade that took Moon and Kim through Pyongyang.

“That sunroof was something that was interesting to see,” she said. “We’ll have to work on whether or not we can get a sunroof next time we go there.”

Nauert also announced that Pompeo will chair a U.N. Security Council ministerial meeting on North Korea Sept. 27 to provide an update on U.S. efforts to denuclearize North Korea and highlight the need of member states to enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ride in a motorcade through Pyongyang ahead of their third summit on Sept. 18, 2018. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ride in a motorcade through Pyongyang ahead of their third summit on Sept. 18, 2018. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

 

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