Published: Thu, September 20, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

North Korea Pledges To Close Nuclear Missile Site

North Korea Pledges To Close Nuclear Missile Site

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has wrapped up a three-day visit to North Korea's capital, the first by a South Korean leader in 11 years.

Kim agreed to allow outside experts to observe the dismantling of its Sohae launch site, where it has tested missile engines and blasted rockets into space.

Earlier today South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a joint press conference in Pyongyang. "If North Korea is genuinely willing to close down Yongbyon and to allow in inspectors ... those are just partial steps, but those are genuine steps forward", said Michael Fuchs, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. That visit to the North Korean capital saw him again play the role of peacemaker as talks between the United States and North Korea appeared on the verge of collapsing.

Diplomacy between the USA and North Korea that had gotten nowhere since the summit clicked into gear again.

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 United States president in NY next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

The nuclear discussions had stalled after the first historic summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore in June, when Kim declared his backing for denuclearisation of the peninsula but no details were agreed.

The Korean summit comes as the US effort to get North Korea to shut down its nuclear weapons program has met with mixed results.

Washington and Pyongyang have subsequently sparred over what that means and how it will be achieved, with the Trump administration consistently referring to the denuclearization of North Korea specifically.

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And his plans to visit the South were also included in that agreement made between the two leaders. "Today the North and South chose to remove all threats that can cause war from the entire Korean peninsula".

Kim and Moon raised their clasped hands aloft on the crater rim and the South Korean president expressed hopes many of his countrymen would follow in his footsteps.

Mr Pompeo said he had invited North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho to meet in NY next week, where they are both due to attend the United Nations gathering of world leaders. "They don't meaningfully constrain North Korea's nuclear programme". He also set a January 2021 deadline for North Korea's denuclearization.

Speaking ahead of Mr Pompeo's announcement, Mr Trump welcomed Mr Kim's pledges, calling them part of "tremendous progress" with Pyongyang on a number of fronts, and hailing "very good news" from the summit between the Koreas.

Kim Jong-un's decision to visit Seoul despite all the opposition hints at his willingness to take the inter-Korean relations a step further and that the visit may actually happen this time.

As the highest peak on the Korean peninsula at about 2,750 metres (9,000 ft), Mount Paektu is the mythical origin of the Korean people, featured in South Korea's national anthem and various North Korean propaganda.

The next meeting between Trump and Kim should seek to produce a timeline for denuclearization, he said.

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