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Pompeo warns against Seoul’s speeding in improving inter-Korean relations

Pompeo warns against Seoul’s speeding in improving inter-Korean relations

Posted November. 22, 2018 07:30,   

Updated November. 22, 2018 07:30

한국어

The Donald Trump administration has officially warned that South Korea’s speeding up improving ties with North Korea should not outpace progress in denuclearizing North Korea.

“We have made clear to (South Korea) that we do want to make sure that peace on the (Korean) peninsula and the denuclearization of North Korea aren't lagging behind the increase in the amount of inter-relationship between the two Koreas,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news briefing following the first South Korea-U.S. working group meeting Tuesday on coordinating bilateral efforts to denuclearize the North. “We view them as tandem, as moving forward together. We view them as important parallel processes.” His remarks are an open warning against Seoul’s efforts to improve relations with the North and to ease sanctions on Pyongyang, sparking concerns over weakening the effects of the sanctions.

“The working group is designed to ensure that we can be sure that we don't talk past each other, that we don't take an action, or the South Koreans don't take an action that the other is unaware of or hasn't had a chance to comment on, or provide their thoughts,” Pompeo said with regards to the launch of the working group. The remark is seen as a clarification that the working group is not simply for discussions on pending issues on denuclearization and improving inter-Korean relations but also plays monitoring and coordination roles that would prevent Seoul from unilaterally taking measures to improve relations with Pyongyang without consulting with Washington.

The United States also responded positively to South Korea's efforts to reconnect cross-border railways with North Korea. “The U.S. expressed its strong support for the joint study of the inter-Korean railway project,” Lee Do-hoon, Seoul’s chief nuclear envoy, told reporters after holding the working group meeting.


Jeong-Hun Park sunshade@donga.com