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South Korean President Welcomes US, North Korea Deal


South Korean President Moon Jae-in looks at a TV broadcasting a news report on summit between the U.S. and North Korea during a cabinet meeting at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, June 12, 2018.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday his government will need to be flexible on its military pressure if North Korea is sincere about denuclearization efforts.

According to Moon's office, the president said if North Korea does take denuclearization steps and continues dialogue with the United States then a change would be necessary in the spirit of building mutual trust with North Korea.

Moon also said he would carefully consider suspending military drills with the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump unexpectedly announced Tuesday he would end the exercises, long an irritant to North Korea, after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The two leaders signed an agreement calling for the end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program, promising U.S. security guarantees, pledging to establish new U.S.-North Korea relations and to recover the remains of prisoners of war.

Earlier Thursday, Moon hosted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for consultations about the summit. The South Korean leader welcomed the result of the Trump-Kim talks, saying they helped move the region toward peace.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a bilateral meeting with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, June 14, 2018.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a bilateral meeting with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, June 14, 2018.

Pompeo expressed confidence that the United States "took a very good, significant step," at the summit in Singapore. And at a news conference following a trilateral meeting with his counterparts from South Korea and Japan, the top U.S. diplomat pushed back against reports by North Korean official media that President Trump agreed to gradually lift sanctions against Pyongyang, saying Trump had been very clear about the sequence of steps in the process.

"We're going to get denuclearization. Only then will there be relief from the sanctions.'' Pompeo said the U.S. "most definitely" wants verifiable North Korean action to denuclearize the Korean peninsula by the end of Trump's first term in the White House in January 2021.

"I am ... confident they understand that there will be in-depth verification," Pompeo said, adding that further U.S. talks with North Korea on how and when it will end its nuclear program will resume "sometime in the next week."

He said Trump and Kim reached understandings not written in the document they signed.

"Not all of that work appeared in the final document," Pompeo said. "But lots of other places where there were understandings reached, we couldn't reduce them to writing, so that means there's still some work to do, but there was a great deal of work done that is beyond what was seen in the final document that will be the place that we will begin when we return to our conversations."

After his talks in South Korea's capital, Pompeo flew to Beijing Thursday, where he is to update the Chinese government on the Trump/Kim summit.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, speaks during a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, June 14, 2018.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, speaks during a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, June 14, 2018.

U.S. critics of the deal said it was short on details and that Trump had made too many concessions to Kim, especially the U.S. leader's announcement about ending the military drills with South Korea.

Trump returned to Washington, declaring on Twitter "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea," even though the agreement he signed with Kim does not spell out how Pyongyang will dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

"Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office," Trump tweeted. "Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!"

Several U.S. lawmakers expressed their approval of Trump's meeting with Kim, but said they were skeptical of the U.S. leader's declaration that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat.

"That would be hyperbole," said Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "That's a great example of hyperbole.... Look, we're used to that. I'm glad the meeting took place. It's hard to discern yet if anything concrete occurred. ....It could be the beginning of solving a problem that would be good for our country and good for the world and I hope that's going to be the case."

A Democrat, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, told VOA, "The [North Korean] nuclear threat will not be over until they have dismantled their entire nuclear establishment and removed both their enrichment capacity and their weapons."

Republican Senator John Cornyn told VOA, "The way I interpret this first [Trump-Kim] meeting, which was surprising to everybody, is that it's like two boxers touching gloves. The real negotiations have yet to unfold."

Trump on Wednesday said "We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith - which both sides are!"

Pompeo said Trump would resume the military drills if North Korea stops negotiating in good faith.

Trump assailed media skeptics of his agreement with Kim.

"So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN," Trump tweeted. "They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have 'begged' for this deal-looked like war would break out. Our Country's biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!"

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