South Korea says sanctions against North Korea will not be lifted until Pyongyang provides concerned parties such as Seoul with firm guarantees that “complete denuclearization” takes place on the Korean Peninsula.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha made the remarks in a press conference in the capital, Seoul, on Wednesday, saying her country expected to see “concrete action” by Pyongyang to “live up to its complete denuclearization commitment,” in exchange for guarantees of its security and other efforts for peace.
She added that until then, the sanctions imposed on the North for its controversial nuclear and ballistic missile programs “will remain in place.”
Kang did not clarify, however, whether she was referring to South Korea’s unilateral sanctions against North Korea or the international ones.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing an unnamed military official, reported that South Korean armed forces would put off an annual command-post practice, called Taegeuk, slated to be held next week.
The official said the three-day simulation-based exercise would be postponed, for the first time since its initiation in 1995, in order to help maintain the momentum of diplomacy with North Korea.
The Taegeuk training has usually been held in May or June every year, led by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
On Tuesday, Seoul and Washington also said that they had decided to suspend “large-scale” joint war game scheduled to be held in August, citing the mood of peace on the peninsula.
Additionally on Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited China for a third time since March, a week after he met with US President Donald Trump in a first-ever summit in Singapore.
China is North Korea’s most important diplomatic and economic supporter and a visit by Kim to Beijing had been widely anticipated in diplomatic circles.
The Chinese leader lent Kim an aircraft to travel to the city-state for the summit with Trump, a sign that Beijing remains a powerful force in the diplomatic efforts.
According to North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, Kim thanked China for “positive and sincere support and good help for the successful” summit with the American president. He also “expressed the determination and will to further develop the closer relations of friendship, unity, and cooperation between the two parties and the two peoples of” North Korea and China.
The North’s leader also invoked the “prospect for the denuclearization of the Korea Peninsula” following his meeting with Trump, KCNA further said.
Kim also promised to cooperate with Chinese officials to secure “true peace” in the process of “opening a new future” on the peninsula, according to the KCNA.
For his part, President Xi said that Beijing thinks “highly” of Kim’s summit with Trump and that he urged Washington and Pyongyang to implement their mutual agreement reached in Singapore, vowing that China would continue to play a “constructive role” in the nuclear diplomacy.
“We are happy to see that the North Korea made a major decision to shift the focus to economic construction, and the development of the country’s socialist cause has entered a new stage in history,” Xi further told Kim, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
The two leaders met with plenty of photo ops and little time for talk at Singapore’s Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa.
At the end of their summit, Trump and Kim signed a brief, broadly-worded document according to which both sides committed to working “towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
While President Trump has said that denuclearization will start in North Korea “immediately,” no specifics have been offered on the disarmament process, including how long it would take and what mechanisms will be in place.
North Korea’s official KCNA has reported that the US has offered Pyongyang “security guarantees,” but no mention of such concessions has been made in the document or by US officials.
Pyongyang is believed to have at least two dozen warheads, including a thermonuclear bomb.