Thursday, 17 January, 2019

North Korea pledges to close down key missile test site

In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un right and South Korean President Moon Jae-in shake hands at the end of their joint press conference in Pyongyang North Korea Wednesday September North Korea pledges to close down key missile test site
Melinda Barton | 21 September, 2018, 04:25

North Korea's Kim Jong Un wants a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump soon to hasten denuclearization, but a key goal is declaring an end this year to the 1950-53 Korean War, the South's President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday.

It was his third summit with Kim this year, and the first time in more than a decade a South Korean president has visited the North.

On the last day of the Pyongyang summit, Yoon Young-chan, senior secretary to the president for public communications said during the afternoon briefing that "while the South Korean President and first lady are staying in North Korea, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's present has already arrived here".

Kim also wants a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump as soon as possible.

In a statement to the press after the meeting, Kim told reporters that he and Moon had "made a firm commitment to exert active efforts to make the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons and nuclear threat and turn it into a land of peace".

The United States has also invited North Korean representatives to meet with the USA special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, in Vienna at the "earliest opportunity", Mr Pompeo said.

While critics said the Pyongyang Declaration lacked substantial demands for the North, Moon said he and Kim had extensively discussed measures the North would take toward denuclearization that were not included in the statement.

But denuclearisation, which Pompeo said must be finished by January 2021, is still going to be a tricky task unless the North takes some steps itself, such as providing details of what nuclear weapons it has, according to analysts.

Mr Trump has questioned the rationale and cost of keeping 28,500 United States troops based in South Korea.

Jeong Seong-jang, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute, also noted that the USA and North Korea were still largely divided over denuclearisation.

In this image made from video by North Korea's KRT, July 28, 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gestures at the site of a missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

Historians say the 5,000-year timeline of Korean history is a groundless claim that became part of South Korea's official narrative after being inserted in school textbooks during the rule of former dictator Chun Doo-hwan.

Mr Moon told reporters in Seoul that he will carry a private message from Mr Kim for Mr Trump on the nuclear standoff when he meets with the U.S. president in NY next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

On Twitter Wednesday, Trump declared the most recent Korean summit a success, and expressed support for the two nations' ambition to co-host the Olympics in 2032.

But discussions over how to implement the vague commitments have since faltered and North Korea has consistently refused to give up its nuclear arsenal unilaterally. The war still technically continues because it ended in 1953 with a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

Among possible Pyongyang demands are the permanent end to "provocative" military exercises between the US and South Korea, which North Korea says amount to invasion practice.

An end-of-war declaration would not affect the presence of USA troops and the UNC in the South, Moon said, adding that Kim shared his view.

Kim Jong Un, too, has visited the mountain around major developments in North Korea, such as before he executed top officials including his uncle Jang Song-thaek in late 2013, and following North Korea's fifth nuclear test in 2016.

"The relationship between Chairman Kim and President Trump is good", Pompeo said in an interview on Fox News that was transcribed by the State Department.