Seoul pushes for US, North Korea nuclear deal

2019-03-03 14:17

South Korea will work with the US and North Korea to help them reach a denuclearisation deal. So said South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, a day after the US-North Korea summit collapsed over a disagreement on sanctions.

The second meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – which took place on Wednesday and Thursday in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week – was cut short after the leaders failed to reach a deal on the extent of sanctions relief North Korea would get in exchange for steps to give up its nuclear programme.

Moon has been active in efforts to end confrontation on the Korean peninsula, meeting Kim three times last year and trying to facilitate his nuclear negotiations with the US.

“My administration will closely communicate and cooperate with the US and North Korea to help their talks reach a complete settlement by any means,” Moon said in Seoul, capital of South Korea.

Moon said Seoul would consult Washington on ways to resume joint projects with North Korea, including tourism development at Mount Kumgang and the Kaesong industrial complex, both in North Korea.

The US and North Korea have expressed their intention to continue talks, but have not said when a next round might take place.

In a move that could encourage more talks, US officials said on Friday that the US and South Korea were expected to announce that they would not carry out large-scale joint military exercises this spring, replacing them with smaller-scale drills.

The allies suspended a number of military drills before and after the first Trump-Kim summit last year to encourage talks with North Korea, which denounced the exercises as training for invasion.

Trump has repeatedly complained about the expense of the exercises and did so again after the Hanoi summit.

Trump and Kim first met in Singapore in June last year and agreed to establish new relations and peace in exchange for a North Korean pledge to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Regarding this week’s meeting, Trump said that over the two days of talks in Hanoi, progress was made, but it was important not to rush into a bad deal. He said he had walked away from the talks because of unacceptable North Korean demands.

“Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that,” he said.

On Friday, Trump tweeted that the negotiations with Kim were “very substantive” and that “we know what they want and they know what we must have”. He gave no other details about any next steps. “Relationship very good, let’s see what happens!” he posted.

– Reuters

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