Kim knows de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion must be ‘quick’ be­fore sanc­tion re­lief: Pom­peo

SEC­RE­TARY OF STATE AT­TEMPTS TO CLAR­IFY CON­FU­SION AF­TER SUM­MIT IN SIN­GA­PORE

The Nation - - WORLD -

KIM JONG- UN un­der­stands that de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion must hap­pen “quickly”, US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said yes­ter­day, warn­ing there will be no sanc­tions re­lief for Py­ongyang un­til the process is com­plete.

Wash­ing­ton re­mained com­mit­ted to the “com­plete, ver­i­fi­able and ir­re­versible” de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of North Korea, Pom­peo added, af­ter the his­toric US- North Korea sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore drew crit­i­cism for its vague word­ing on plans for Py­ongyang to give up its nu­clear weapons.

“We be­lieve that Kim Jong-un un­der­stands the ur­gency ... that we must do this quickly,” he said of the ef­fort to have North Korea aban­don its nu­clear weapons.

Wash­ing­ton’s top diplo­mat was in Seoul to brief his South Korean and Ja­panese coun­ter­parts af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s post-sum­mit com­ments sparked con­fu­sion and con­cern in Tokyo and Seoul.

But Pom­peo in­sisted at a joint press con­fer­ence with the two coun­tries’ for­eign min­is­ters that there was no day­light among the al­lies on how to achieve the de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of North Korea.

Con­trast­ing the Trump pol­icy with pre­vi­ous US ad­min­is­tra­tions, Pom­peo said: “In the past, they were pro­vid­ing eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial re­lief be­fore ... com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion had taken place.”

“That is not go­ing to hap­pen, Pres­i­dent Trump made that clear.”

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil pun­ished North Korea over its weapons pro­grammes with in­creas­ingly strict sanc­tions last year, which were also backed by China, Py­ongyang’s only ally.

Trump said af­ter his meet­ing with Kim, the first be­tween sit­ting US and North Korean lead­ers, that Wash­ing­ton would halt its joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea, an an­nounce­ment that caught Seoul, and ap­par­ently the Pen­tagon, by sur­prise.

The US and South Korea con­duct mas­sive an­nual mil­i­tary ex­er­cises to main­tain readi­ness for oper­a­tions on the penin­sula, a source of ir­ri­ta­tion for Py­ongyang, which con­sid­ers them prepa­ra­tions for an in­va­sion.

South Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha ap­peared to side­step the is­sue at the joint press con­fer­ence, say­ing the mat­ter would be left to mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties to dis­cuss, and that the US-South Korea al­liance re­mains “as ro­bust as ever”.

‘Good faith’

“I’m ab­so­lutely as­sured of our shared goal, our shared ap­proach and how we will pro­ceed to reach com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion,” she said.

While it is not di­rectly in­volved, Ja­pan also con­sid­ers the drills vi­tal.

The “de­ter­rence based on them [plays] an es­sen­tial role for se­cu­rity in north­east Asia”, Ja­panese For­eign Min­is­ter Taro Kono said af­ter “frank” tri­lat­eral talks on Thursday.

“The US will ad­vance the dis­cus­sion on pro­vi­sion of se­cu­rity guar­an­tees while care­fully mon­i­tor­ing whether North Korea takes con­crete steps to ful­fil its com­mit­ment to de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion,” Kono added. “No se­cu­rity guar­an­tees have been given yet.”

Pom­peo said the sus­pen­sion of the drills de­pended on pro­duc­tive ne­go­ti­a­tions in “good faith”.

Trump raised eye­brows on Tuesday by de­scrib­ing his own coun­try’s drills on the penin­sula as “provoca­tive”, a term used by the North for the ex­er­cises.

Py­ongyang de­scribes its nu­clear weapons and long-range mis­siles as a shield against US ag­gres­sion, and has in the past linked de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion to the re­moval of US forces from the penin­sula.

North Korea ob­servers were alarmed by the US de­ci­sion on mil­i­tary drills, given the lack of any guar­an­tees by North Korea at the sum­mit.

Af­ter his meet­ings in Seoul, Pom­peo left for Beijing, where he is ex­pected to meet Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi.

But de­spite the con­cern among al­lies and an­a­lysts, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to tout the sum­mit as a suc­cess, and Pom­peo said ear­lier that he hopes to see “ma­jor dis­ar­ma­ment” of North Korea by 2020.

South Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha, cen­tre, speaks as US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, right, and Ja­pan’s For­eign Min­is­ter Taro Kono, left, look on dur­ing a joint press con­fer­ence at the For­eign Min­istry in Seoul. The US-South Korea al­liance re­mains “as ro­bust as ever”, Seoul's for­eign min­is­ter said, two days af­ter US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sur­prise an­nounce­ment that Wash­ing­ton will halt its joint mil­i­tary drills with the South.

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