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North Korea may suggest shutdown of Yongbyon nuclear complex, international inspections: Foreign Minister Kang

South Korea’s foreign minister said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is expected to take concrete steps toward denuclearization in order to keep his pledges concerning economic development, as the leaders of both the US and the North express optimism about their upcoming summit.

Closing the Yongbyon nuclear complex and dismantling key missile facilities in the presence of foreign inspectors are measures that Pyongyang might suggest during a second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said in an interview with Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

North Korea`s Yongbyon nuclear plant (AFP)
North Korea`s Yongbyon nuclear plant (AFP)

“The (North Korean) leader has promised to his people many times that ‘I’m going to take this country towards economic development.’ He has to deliver that, and he’s not going to get the kind of significant assistance unless he takes concrete steps towards denuclearization and somehow eases the sanctions regime,” she was quoted as saying.

With a second Kim-Trump summit on the horizon, all eyes are on what specific commitments North Korea will offer as steps toward giving up its nuclear weapons and on what incentives the US will provide to advance the progress of the talks.

Kang’s remarks came as both Trump and Kim expressed high expectations for the second summit, which is set to take place in late February, following high-level and working-level negotiations in recent weeks.

In a meeting with the delegation that returned from Washington after a second round of high-level talks between North Korea and the US last week, Kim expressed “great satisfaction” after receiving a letter from Trump, according to the North’s Korean Central News Agency.

“He spoke highly of President Trump for expressing his unusual determination and will for the settlement of the issue with a great interest in the second DPRK-US summit,” the state media reported, abbreviating North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Meanwhile, Trump on Thursday promoted his upcoming summit with Kim and defended the achievements made at his first meeting with the North Korean leader in Singapore in June.

He complained that news reports said very little happened at the first US-North Korea summit, but that the North had subsequently stopped nuclear and missile testing, and had also returned hostages as well as the remains of US soldiers killed during the Korean War.

“I expect another good meeting soon, much potential!” he said on Twitter.

By Park Han-na (