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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

North Korea says 'taking measures' to dismantle nuclear site

Kim Jong Un is set to meet Trump in Singapore for a historic summit next month

In this Friday, April 27 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in raise their hands after signing on a joint statement at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone, South Korea. Korea Summit Press Pool / AP
In this Friday, April 27 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in raise their hands after signing on a joint statement at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone, South Korea. Korea Summit Press Pool / AP

North Korea is "taking technical measures" to dismantle its nuclear test site and will invite foreign media to observe a ceremony to kick off the process, state news agency KCNA said Saturday.

Pyongyang's news agency said the dismantlement of the nuclear test ground would involve collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts.

"A ceremony for dismantling the nuclear test ground is now scheduled between May 23 and 25, depending on weather condition," it said, citing a foreign ministry press release.

The move comes after Kim recently stepped onto South Korean soil for the first time and committed to denuclearisation in a bilateral meeting with Xi Jinping, the president of China, Pyongyang's only major diplomatic ally.

He is also set to meet with US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12 for a historic summit.

"The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!" Mr Trump tweeted to his 50 million-plus followers on Thursday.

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Mr Trump's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday North Korea can look forward to "a future brimming with peace and prosperity" if it agrees to quickly give up its nuclear weapons.

It also comes after North Korea released three Americans from captivity.

Welcoming the three Americans at a military base outside Washington early Thursday, Mr Trump said of his North Korean counterpart Mr Kim: "I really think he wants to do something".

Officials in Seoul had said in April that North Korea planned to invite experts and journalists from the United States and South Korea for the shutdown of its test site.

All international journalists will be provided with a charter flight into Wonsan, a port city in eastern North Korea, from Beijing, KCNA said. There, reporters will board a charter train to the nuclear test ground in an "uninhabited deep mountain area".

North Korea's six known nuclear tests have taken place in Punggye-ri, a location in the northeastern part of North Korea where a system of tunnels have been dug under Mount Mantap.

"The DPRK will, also in the future, promote close contacts and dialogue with the neighbouring countries and the international society so as to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and over the globe," the North Korean foreign ministry statement carried by KCNA said Saturday.