SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea and the United States have urged North Korea to deliver on the disarmament promises it made in previous talks, saying on Thursday that the Allies will continue to push for diplomacy aimed at achieving full denuclearization of the north.
A joint statement, issued by South Korean Defense Secretary Jeong Kyeong-doo and US Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, comes a day after North Korea abruptly announced it would suspend steps that would have overturned 2018 stress relief agreements and the animosities about the Korean peninsula.
In the statement that marked mainly the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the Allies’ heads of state said they remain “determined to defend the hard-won peace in the Korean peninsula, including supporting ongoing diplomatic efforts. for the full denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. That’s the official name of the North.
Jeong and Esper also said they are also calling on North Korea to “fulfill its obligations in accordance with” the joint statements issued following talks between the US and North Korea in June 2018 in Singapore and inter-Korean talks in September 2018.
In the joint statement following the Singapore Summit with President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country is “committed to full denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” without specifying how and when disarmament pathways would take place. North Korea previously used similar language when it required the US to withdraw its 28,500 troops from South Korea and end regular military exercises as a precondition for nuclear disarmament.
Subsequent talks between the U.S. and North Korea, including two more Kim-Trump summits, have reported little progress, as North Korea said it will not disarm unilaterally unless the United States lifts paralyzing international sanctions and offers security guarantees.
In recent weeks, North Korea has focused on provocations targeting South Korea. It broke all lines of communication with South Korea, blew up a Seoul-built liaison office in its territory, and threatened to take steps to annul the 2018 deals aimed at easing border tensions. Experts say North Korea is trying to pressure Seoul and Washington over stalled nuclear diplomacy.
Threatened North Korean moves included resuming military exercises, re-installing sentries, sending troops to closed Korean collaboration sites along their heavily fortified border with South Korea, and flying propaganda magazines south.
On Wednesday, however, the North said that Kim postponed such measures after military leaders “took stock of the prevailing situation.”
Experts say North Korea may be trying to leave concessions for South Korea or worry about unexpectedly stronger responses from Seoul, whose help may need it again if it wants to reach the United States for future talks.
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