Sun, May 13, 2018 - Page 1 News List

US vows to make North Korea rich if it gives up nukes

CARROT AND STICK:The US is willing to help North Korea achieve a level of prosperity on par with South Korea, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said

AFP, WASHINGTON

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a joint news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, not pictured, after their meeting in Washington on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

The US on Friday promised that it would work to rebuild North Korea’s sanctions-crippled economy if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s regime agrees to surrender its nuclear arsenal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s vow came as senior US officials expressed growing optimism ahead of the landmark June 12 summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Pompeo, who held talks with Kim over the weekend, said “we have a pretty good understanding between our two countries about what the shared objectives are.”

He was speaking after talks with South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha to coordinate preparations for the historic encounter.

Many observers have said that Kim’s regime would try to drive a wedge between the allies as the summit approaches, playing Seoul’s fear of war against Washington’s nuclear concerns.

However, both Kang and Pompeo said that they agreed on the need for the “total, permanent and verifiable” denuclearization of the divided peninsula.

Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are due to meet on May 22 at the White House for the next round of planning.

Pompeo said the US would remain on board to help develop the North’s economy, which has been devastated by its own mismanagement and crippling international sanctions.

“If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize, the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on par with our South Korean friends,” he said.

Since an ad hoc 1953 armistice put an end to active hostilities between the North and the South, South Korea has become a leading world economy.

However, the North has remained one of the world’s most isolated states and its outdated economy has been further battered by a UN-backed “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions.

Over the past year, Kim and Trump have added a personal touch to a half-century of international enmity, swapping insults and both openly threatening direct military action.

Kim’s regime also carried out missile tests that convinced US intelligence officials, including Pompeo in his former role as CIA director, that North Korea could threaten US cities.

However, Moon reached out to the North, reopening direct talks, and when Kim invited Trump to a summit to discuss disarmament, the mood changed.

Meanwhile, North Korea has scheduled the dismantlement of its nuclear test site for sometime between May 23 and 25 depending on weather conditions to uphold its pledge to discontinue nuclear tests, state media said yesterday.

The dismantlement of the nuclear test ground would involve collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts, the Korean Central News Agency said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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