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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on July 4)

2018/07/04 06:59

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Pompeo's NK visit

Pyongyang should provide clear answers on denuclearization

The White House confirmed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's third trip to Pyongyang this week. The top U.S. diplomat will be heading to the North Korean capital July 5 for additional high-level talks between the two countries on the North's denuclearization. On Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, who has been closely involved in the bilateral negotiations, held talks with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui at the truce village of Panmunjeom.

Secretary Pompeo will be meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, who has been slow to respond to the gestures by the U.S. and South Korea to set the right mood for denuclearization talks to move forward. The allies announced the suspension of a large-scale joint military exercise recently despite no clear actions from Pyongyang to dismantle its weapons programs. It is now time for the North to make the next move and deliver its part of the agreement for "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula reached by U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in Singapore during their historic June 12 summit.

The latest U.S. media reports, however, suggest Pyongyang is unlikely to implement the agreement and denuclearize in the near future. According to U.S. intelligence sources, North Korea has increased its capacity for the production of nuclear weapons even after the U.S.-North Korea summit. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has declined to comment on such reports. But concerns are mounting that Pyongyang may be deceiving Washington and the entire world to relieve sanctions and extract more concessions.

Pompeo's Pyongyang trip comes amid escalating pressure from Washington for North Korea's denuclearization. Trump's national security adviser John Bolton told CBS earlier this week that Washington has a plan for dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in a year. This is likely to be discussed during Pompeo's visit.

Since the denuclearization talks have begun, North Korea has not conducted any more nuclear and missile tests, and destroyed tunnels at its nuclear test site in the presence of international media. But these steps are not enough to ensure North Korea's full intention to denuclearize.

There is much expectation for the upcoming meeting between Pompeo and Kim for real progress in the denuclearization process. It is crucial that the U.S. secretary of state get a clearer picture this time of Pyongyang's denuclearization roadmap. Both sides should communicate closely to maintain the momentum for peace created by the June 12 summit as well as the inter-Korean summits leading up to Singapore.

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