North Korea pledges to destroy missile test engine site

Erika Holt
June 22, 2018

The pomp and circumstance looked geared towards showing off the major improvement in relations between the communist neighbours, along with China's important role in keeping North Korea on track.

Calling the military exercise as "expensive and provocative" has definitely worked in Pyongyang's favor, the South Koreans said.

However, asked on Wednesday if he could "put his finger on" any steps North Korea had taken to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme, Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon: "No, I'm not aware of that".

South Korea has been invested heavily in India and has many projects in Pakistan as well.

"It's necessary for North Korea to present far more concrete denuclearization plans, and I think it's necessary for the United States to swiftly reciprocate by coming up with comprehensive measures", Moon said. "Detailed negotiations have not begun".

Trump has expressed frustration over criticism that he legitimized the communist regime and gave it concessions by meeting with the leader and agreeing to suspend military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. In return, critics say, North Korea committed only to the vaguely worded "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.

Reuters reported earlier this week that North Korea could start the process of handing over the remains of troops, including Americans, within the next few days.

New U.S. Indo-Pacific military commander (INDOPACOM) Adm Phillip Davidson (L) meets with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo on Thursday.

"Obviously, it's the very front end of a process".

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It comes less than a fortnight after his historic summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

South Korean officials this week said they had agreed to suspend the annual Freedom Guardian exercise with the US, originally scheduled to take place in August.

But the joint statement between Kim and Trump did not include details about how the two countries will reach denuclearization. In total, more than 36,500 USA troops died in the conflict. The official, who wasn't authorised to discuss the issue publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity, would not answer questions about whether the site was already being destroyed, but said that as negotiations moved forward, the administration would continue to monitor the area where North Korea tested liquid propellant engines for long-range ballistic missiles.

Addressing the summit declaration, which has been widely critiqued for its vagueness, Kang said: "Complete denuclearization is the goal".

The officials said it would also take some time to verify that the remains are those of American soldiers.

China is apparently moving to ease sanctions on North Korea and strengthen bilateral economic cooperation, following the North's leader Kim Jong-un's most recent visit to Beijing.

"We got back our great fallen heroes, the remains sent back today, already 200 got sent back", said Trump. "I know that we're engaged on it".

The US says China is in agreement on that point, although Chinese officials say sanctions should not be an end in themselves.

"The situation is different from previous year when missile launches were frequent and it is not a situation where missiles will soon come flying", he told a news conference, adding that the matter of the drills was under consideration.

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