Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

N. Korea's Kim Asked China's Xi to Help Lift Sanctions

N. Korea's Kim Asked China's Xi to Help Lift Sanctions

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in charge of nailing down the specifics on North Korean denuclearization.

The wording dropped the usual reference to the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization".

In both trips, the chief USA diplomat met with the North's leader.

The top US diplomat is expected to discuss with North Korean officials concrete measures that would see Pyongyang relinquish its nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and possibly other weapons of mass destruction.

The Washington Post earlier reported on United States intelligence officials' doubt that North Korea intends to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, called the report very troubling.

Analyst Hong Min at Seoul's Korea Institute for National Unification downplayed the significance of the new disclosures, saying Pyongyang and Washington haven't yet agreed on detailed disarmament steps the North is obliged to take. "We're well aware of what the North Koreans have done in the past".

Last week, 38 North, a website run by the Johns Hopkins University, said satellite imagery showed the North had been upgrading its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

"It is perfectly rational for North Korea to shift the emphasis to developing solid fuel missiles now that it already has a suite of liquid fuel missiles to deter an attack", he said.

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South Korea media reported on Sunday that Sung Kim, the USA ambassador to the Philippines, met with North Korean officials on Sunday at the border village of Panmunjom within the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas to coordinate an agenda for Pompeo's next visit to North Korea.

According to reports in South Korea, Sung Kim met with North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Choi Sun Hee at Panmunjom for an hour and a half Sunday. In return, Trump promised to give Kim security assurances and announced the suspension of military drills with South Korea, drawing criticism that he made too many concessions. "I really believe he means it", Trump told Fox news. "Now is it possible?"

John Bolton, Trump's national security advisor, said on Sunday that the United States plans for North Korea to dismantle its chemical, biological, nuclear, and ballistic missile programs in a year's time.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on intelligence reports expressing doubts over North Korea's seriousness about denuclearizing, but said Washington is "continuing to make progress" in talks with Pyongyang.

While Pyongyang has stopped missile and nuclear weapons tests, "there's no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles or that they have stopped their production", an official told NBC News in the US.

He pointed out that Kim has made a series of appearances in recent days focusing on economic ventures.

U.S. officials have been vague or dismissive when asked whether Pyongyang has provided a full and detailed accounting of its nuclear program and arsenal - a requirement if monitors are to reliably monitor its destruction. "It's like when you're about to sell your house, you do a flurry of renovations before the sellers come to take a look because you're trying to jack up the price".

The secretary of state may press North Korea to allow the recovery of some of the nearly 7,700 soldiers still unaccounted for after the 1950-53 Korean War, the most concrete agreement to come out of Trump-Kim summit.

They also agreed to the recovery of remains of thousands of USA servicemembers still missing from the 1950-53 Korean War and "the immediate repatriation of those already identified".

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