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Seoul’s foreign minister says biggest hurdle is drawing up road map for denuclearization

NEW YORK -- Drawing up a road map for the denuclearization of North Korea will be the biggest hurdle in working-level talks between the US and North Korea, even though all parties share a common definition of denuclearization, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha said Sunday.

Speaking in New York, where she arrived as part of President Moon Jae-in’s entourage at the UN General Assembly, Kang said she believes the two Koreas and the US share the same idea of denuclearization. 

South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha briefs the media in New York on Sunday. Yonhap
South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha briefs the media in New York on Sunday. Yonhap

“The definition of the goal is the same, but there are differences of opinion on how to draw the road map,” Kang said, mentioning as examples the UN Security Council resolutions, the US term “final, fully verified denuclearization” and the South Korean government’s term “complete denuclearization.”

“I think the biggest task for the working-level talks is to draw up the road map,” Kang said, referring to the upcoming working-level talks between the US and North Korea.

Although the two sides have yet to resume talks, which have been stalled since the second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi, Washington and Pyongyang have hinted that reengagement may be imminent.

Regarding the planned summit between Moon and US President Donald Trump, Kang stressed that the two sides are on the same page regarding North Korea. Moon is set to hold his ninth summit with Trump on Monday (US time). Ahead of Moon’s departure for New York, Cheong Wa Dae said the meeting would focus on cooperation between Seoul and Washington on their military alliance and on the denuclearization of North Korea.

“We share the US’ basic position of approaching the talks with an open attitude towards (the North’s demands) such as security guarantees and lifting sanctions, and we are also sharing (views) on the results the negotiations will move towards once they begin,” Kang said.

She said Seoul and Washington had been working together closely since the Hanoi summit, analyzing the reasons for its failure and the implications of the North’s public statements.     

In recent months, the North has issued a series of statements aimed at the South and the US. Addressing the South, Pyongyang has rejected Seoul’s involvement in the denuclearization talks and has used increasingly vehement words to attack Moon. 

In contrast, Pyongyang has stopped short of criticizing Trump, and has expressed willingness to engage in talks provided that the US side approaches the matter with “new calculation methods.”

By Choi He-suk
Korea Herald Correspondent