North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his willingness to accomplish his country’s “complete denuclearization” by the end of 2020, before U.S. President Donald Trump’s first term ends. Kim made the remarks during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s special envoys to Pyongyang on Wednesday.
This was the first time that the North Korean leader specified the timing of the completion of the planned denuclearization. However, he also made it clear that his country would not take denuclearization measures without the United States’ “simultaneous actions” that would correspond to the North’s measures, causing concerns that the differences between Washington and Pyongyang could prolong the denuclearization negotiations.
South Korea’s National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong, who led the delegation to Pyongyang, told a news briefing on Thursday that Kim reaffirmed his firm commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and expressed his willingness to closely cooperate not only with South Korea but also with the United States to that end. "The North Korean leader also “hoped to end 70 years of hostile relationship between North Korea and the United States and realize denuclearization by improving the North-U.S. relationship within Trump's first term,” Chung said. The South Korean special envoys talked with Kim for nearly two hours in Pyongyang on Wednesday.
Chung also quoted Kim as saying that concerns over a weakened Seoul-Washington alliance or a possible U.S. troop pullout “has nothing to do with an end-of-war declaration” and that his faith in President Trump “remains unchanged.”
However, Kim was as quoted as saying that the North would “continue to take more active measures for denuclearization if corresponding (U.S.) measures are taken.” Defining the North’s shutdown of its Punggye-ri nuclear test site and missile engine test site in Tongchang-ri “pre-emptive and goodwill measures,” Kim suggested that the United States should adopt a declaration to end the Korean War to advance the denuclearization process. Kim also expressed hope that conditions will be created in which he could feel his denuclearization decision was a right one.
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