South Korea Defends U.S. Bid for Nukes Compromise With Kim

(Bloomberg) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha defended U.S. efforts to advance North Korea talks, saying in an interview that it would be “excessive” to say Washington is compromising on its denuclearization goals.

“There’s no shifting -- not a bit -- about what the goal is. It’s complete denuclearization,” Kang told the Yonhap News Agency in an interview published Tuesday. Kang said that the U.S. was negotiating with North Korea “on behalf of the global community.”

South Korea Defends U.S. Bid for Nukes Compromise With Kim

Negotiations between the two sides have picked up pace since U.S. President Donald Trump met with a top North Korean official in Washington and announced plans to hold a second summit with Kim Jong Un next month. The move suggested that the U.S. may be softening its insistence on keeping economic sanctions, since Kim had threatened to take a “new path” if Washington didn’t ease off.

Kim knows “clearly that he cannot deliver economic development while under international sanctions,” Kang said, according to a video of the interview posted by Yonhap. North Korea needs to “deliver on the denuclearization track” to get relief, she said.

The summit was expected to take place in Vietnam, Bloomberg News reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the talks.

Kang also said that declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War was “something that will also further encourage the denuclearization process.” She said humanitarian assistance for North Korea must be “separately considered” from the ongoing talks.

Meanwhile, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that the U.S.’s special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, had asked North Korean counterpart Choe Son Hui for a freeze on nuclear fuel and weapons production. The request was made during working-level talks that took place in Sweden after the summit announcement, the report said, citing diplomatic officials in Washington that it didn’t identify.

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