Mon, Oct 01, 2018 - Page 4 News List

North Korea urges US to end hostility

‘CRADLE OF PEACE’:The North’s foreign minister suggested that a US show of trust was all that stood in the way of progress, but satellites continue to capture nuclear activities

AP, UNITED NATIONS

Calling for more trust, North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Yong-ho on Saturday urged the US to keep moving past what he called seven decades of entrenched hostility if Washington wants to restart stalled negotiations meant to rid Pyongyang of its nuclear bombs.

Boiling the rivals’ diplomatic standoff down to the North’s deepening feeling of mistrust, Ri sought to lay out a vision of peace on the troubled Korean Peninsula — provided that the North gets what it wants from the US.

Standing on the rostrum at the UN General Assembly in New York, Ri said that Pyongyang is ready to implement the points that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump agreed to in June during a summit in Singapore.

However, his comments were infused with what came across as impatience at the slow pace of progress in a process that many hope will cause the North to abandon an arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles that aims to accurately target the entire US mainland.

Over the past few weeks, Kim has said that he would permanently dismantle North Korea’s main nuclear complex, but only if the US takes unspecified corresponding measures.

Kim has also promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad.

However, Pyongyang does not “see any corresponding response” from Washington, Ri said.

Instead, the US is increasing pressure and sanctions, he said.

“The perception that sanctions can bring us on our knees is a pipe dream of the people who are ignorant of us,” Ri said, adding that the continued sanctions are “deepening our mistrust” and deadlocking diplomatic efforts.

“Without any trust in the US, there will be no confidence in our national security,” he said. “And under such circumstances, there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first.”

There was no immediate response from Washington.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week said he would return to Pyongyang to set up a sequel to the Singapore meeting between Kim and Trump.

Despite the muscular tone, Ri’s high-profile speech was downright mild and balanced compared to the florid vows of nuclear strikes and claims of US perfidiousness that have been typical fare from the country’s propaganda services.

This was decidedly so during an exchange of threats between Washington and Pyongyang that accompanied a run of increasingly powerful weapons tests last year that put the North on the brink of its claim to be a full-fledged nuclear power, and had some fearing war.

The tenor of Ri’s comments was clearly meant to push a wary US to agree to a declaration formally ending the Korean War, which ended with a ceasefire, not a peace treaty.

Washington is wary of endorsing such a declaration, which could lead to a formal peace treaty. Pyongyang demands the removal of the 28,500 US troops stationed in the South to deter North Korean military adventurism. The US wants the North to first provide a full account of the components of its nuclear program.

Although not legally binding, the North might also see an end-of-war declaration as a way to create political momentum that would steer discussions toward diplomatic recognition, economic benefits and security concessions.

Once the Singapore agreements are implemented, the “current trend toward detente will turn into durable peace and the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will also be achieved,” Ri said. “The Korean Peninsula, the hottest spot in the globe, will become the cradle of peace and prosperity.”

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