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Pompeo says US flexible in N. Korea nuclear talks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (AP-Yonhap)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (AP-Yonhap)
The United States is focused on drawing North Korea back to denuclearization talks and is willing to show flexibility in reaching balanced agreements to reflect the promises the two countries exchanged at the Singapore summit in June 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday.

Asked by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency to respond to President Moon Jae-in’s latest push to resume inter-Korean exchanges, the top US diplomat reiterated that Washington supports inter-Korean cooperation.

But he added that bilateral exchanges should proceed in parallel with Pyongyang’s disarmament.

“The two Koreas should expand cooperation to form a ‘lifetime bond’ and build a ‘peace community,’” Moon said in his televised national address Sunday, referring to security challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s time that we (the South and North) began on our own what we could do to foster a breakthrough in stalled inter-Korean relations. COVID-19 cooperation, for instance,” Moon told reporters after the speech, which detailed economic policies to counter COVID-19 but was unusually reticent on inter-Korean affairs.

Moon said it was unclear when the nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang would produce results, especially ahead of the US presidential election in November.

Meanwhile, a North Korean propaganda radio network criticized Moon’s Northern Policy initiative, which aims to foster economic partnerships between South Korea and Russia, as well as countries in Central Asia.
Moon sees these alliances as conducive to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and accelerate Pyongyang’s denuclearization.

But, the network said Moon’s initiative, unveiled shortly after he took office, was a repeat of an anti-Pyongyang project his predecessor former President Roh Tae-woo pursued years ago, and that it relied on foreign powers to realize unification.

Upon his inauguration in 1988, Roh declared that his administration would seek stronger economic and diplomatic ties with countries in Central Asia, as well as Russia, to bring unification a step closer by cementing new alliances and neutralizing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The outlet did not respond to Moon’s proposal Sunday that the two Koreas start working together to battle the novel coronavirus outbreak.

By Choi Si-young (