N. Korea sanctions remain till complete denuclearization: Pompeo

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Seoul, June 14 (IANS) North Korea will not see any economic sanctions lifted until it demonstrates “complete denuclearization”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said here on Thursday.

Pompeo comments came at a press conference in Seoul with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts. He travelled from Singapore to South Korea to brief Washington’s regional allies on the summit between US Presiden Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and discuss surprise announcement of ending routine US-South Korea military drills.

The leaders signed a statement on June 12 pledging to establish a new relationship. Kim also reaffirmed his previous promises to work towards the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”.

But there has been “deep scepticism” about the pact, with observers saying it lacked detail on how North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons and how that process would be verified.

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Pompeo dismissed a report by the North Korean state media that indicated the US would grant concessions to Pyongyang for gradual progress. He said the US remained “committed to achieving the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea”, the BBC reported.

Pompeo also insisted the alliance between the US, South Korea and Japan remained “ironclad”, despite Trump’s announcement about ending military drills.

South Korea and Japan always said the drills, which infuriate North Korea, were necessary to ensure their security.

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha echoed Trump, saying the relationship between Washington and Seoul was as “robust as ever”. Her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono called the summit the “beginning of a challenging yet significant process”, saying that the three countries would “continue our joint efforts”.

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According to South Korean presidential office, President Moon Jae-in on Thursday said that the country may consider suspending its joint military drills with the US to help build trust and ease tensions with North Korea, Yonhap news agency reported.

“President Moon said if North Korea implements denuclearization measures and sincere dialogue continues between South Korea and the North as well between Pyongyang and Washington, the country needs to flexibly change its military pressure against the North in the spirit of building mutual trust,” the presidential office said.

Moon said his country will carefully consider the possibility of suspending the South Korea-US joint military exercises, according to the press release.

The summit in Singapore was the first-ever between a sitting leader of the US and North Korea.

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–IANS

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