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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

US and South Korea mulling incentives for Kim Jong-un in nuclear talks

North's foreign minister says nuclear talks expected to pick up speed

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island in Singapore last year. AP
President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island in Singapore last year. AP

The United States and South Korea are discussing “corresponding measures” to reward North Korea’s steps toward denuclearisation, South Korea’s foreign minister said, as US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un prepare for a possible second summit.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said on Wednesday in Seoul that the allies were reviewing various packages of incentives that Washington could bring to the table in the meeting. While Ms Kang provided few details other than to say restarting stalled business projects were being discussed, the term can cover everything from sanctions relief to moves to formalise the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

“Between South Korea and the United States, we are closely consulting what kinds of denuclearisation measures should be followed and what the United States and the international community can do as corresponding measures,” she told local media at a New Year’s news conference. She said she expected nuclear talks to pick up speed.

Negotiations between the US and North Korea have sputtered since Mr Trump and Mr Kim signed an agreement during their first meeting in June to “work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” without defining the phrase or setting any deadlines. North Korea argues the deal implied a step-by-step approach, where each of its actions are met by US responses, while President Trump administration officials assert that Mr Kim accepted his country’s "final, fully verified denuclearisation".

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Mr Kim warned in his New Year’s address earlier this month that he could be forced to take a “new path” in talks, if Mr Trump didn’t relax sanctions pressure. Mr Kim pressed for US concessions to reward his decisions last year to halt weapons tests and dismantle some testing facilities, without offering additional steps.

“If the United States takes a credible action in response to our proactive and preemptive efforts and responds to the corresponding measures, the relationship between the two countries will move forward at a good and rapid pace through the process of taking more certain and innovative steps is,” Mr Kim said on January 1.

Ms Kang’s remarks come as the US and North Korea prepare for a second summit between the two leaders. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top Kim aide Kim Yong Chol were expected to meet in Washington as soon as this week, CNN reported on Wednesday.

While South Korea was not independently considering resuming co-operation projects at a North Korean mountain resort or the joint factory park in the North, Ms Kang said such moves were part of the “various combination of corresponding measures” being discussed. "Details of the results will be generated during the negotiations between North Korea and the United States," she said.

Updated: January 16, 2019 08:53 AM

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