North Korea will get relief from international sanctions only when it has shown irreversible moves toward denuclearization, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis yesterday said ahead of a summit next week between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Speaking in Singapore at the start of a meeting with the defense ministers of South Korea and Japan, he said, “we can anticipate at best a bumpy road to the negotiations.”
“As defense ministers we must maintain a strong, collaborative defensive stance, so we enable our diplomats to negotiate from a calm position of strength in this critical time,” Mattis said on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, which brings together global defense officials.
All UN Security Council resolutions on the regime must stay in place, he said.
“North Korea will receive relief only when it demonstrates verifiable and irreversible steps to denuclearization,” Mattis said.
His comments came after Trump on Friday conceded that North Korea would not agree immediately to give up its nuclear arsenal, and seemingly walked back expectations for a quick deal from his planned June 12 meeting in Singapore with Kim.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is to join that summit with the meeting likely to declare an end to the Korean War after almost 70 years, the JoongAng Daily reported yesterday, citing a diplomatic source it did not identify.
Meanwhile, North Korea moved to replace its defense minister ahead of the pivotal negotiations, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported yesterday, citing people that it did not identify.
No Kwang-chol, the head of the North Korean Workers’ Party’s second economic committee, was chosen to replace Pak Yong-sik, who had served as defense chief since May 2015.
Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera told reporters after the meeting with Mattis and South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo that the nations agreed “it is very important for North Korea to take concrete actions in a perfect and irreversible way.”
“Both pressure and dialogue are important ... we believe that pressure will be maintained, which will help solve this problem,” he said.
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