International media observe the demolition of facilities at the DPRK's nuclear test center in Punggye-ri on May 25, 2018. (PHOTO / KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY)
SEOUL - Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un intends to abolish all nuclear weapons, materials and facilities to achieve "complete" denuclearization, the Republic of Korea (ROK)'s President Moon Jae-in, who held his third summit with Kim last month, said on Friday.
Kim and US President Donald Trump pledged to work towards denuclearisation at their landmark June summit in Singapore, but the agreement was short on specifics. Negotiations have made little headway since, with the North refusing to declare its nuclear weapons and facilities or agree to a concrete timeline.
Moon said Kim was ready to invite international experts to watch the dismantling of a key missile site and would close the main Yongbyon nuclear complex if Washington took reciprocal actions
Moon emphasized Kim's resolve to abandon nuclear and missile programs, that the North pursued in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, and focus on the economy if regime security is guaranteed.
"By complete denuclearization he meant to start by stopping additional nuclear and missile tests, and then abolish the facilities that produce the nukes and develop the missiles, and all the existing nuclear weapons and materials," Moon said, according to a script of his interview with BBC shared by his office.
After his third summit in Pyongyang, Moon said the North was ready to invite international experts to watch the dismantling of a key missile site and would close the main Yongbyon nuclear complex if Washington took reciprocal actions.
The actions could include putting a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, opening of a US liaison office in North Korea, humanitarian aid and an exchange of economic experts, Moon said.
The ROK and the DPRK are technically still at war because the conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
And when the North makes substantial progress in denuclearization, a gradual easing of economic sanctions Pyongyang should be "seriously considered," Moon said.
The United States has insisted on irreversible steps towards denuclearisation first.
"Matter of time"
"Ending the war is a sort of a political declaration to terminate the longstanding hostile relationship between the United States and North Korea, and it would kick off peace negotiations depending on the denuclearisation process," Moon said.
The DPRK is also referred to as North Korea while the ROK South Korea.
"There is consensus between South Korea and the United States that it is desirable to make the end-of-war declaration at an earliest possible date, so I think it's a matter of time but it will definitely happen."
His comments come amid US concerns that inter-Korean relations may be warming too fast relative to negotiations to dismantle DPRK's weapons programs.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has expressed "discontent" with an inter-Korean military pact reached during last month's summit in a rare sign of disagreement between the allies.
In this June 12, 2018 file photo, US President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s leader Kim Jong-un at the Capella resort on Sentosa island in Singapore. (EVAN VUCCI / AP)
The two Koreas agreed in that accord to halt military drills, set up a no-fly zone near the border and gradually remove landmines and guard posts within the Demilitarised Zone, among other steps.
Moon also said Pyongyang and Washington were in working-level discussions to arrange a second summit as soon as the US midterm elections are over.
Trump said on Tuesday his second summit with Kim would be held after the elections slated for Nov 6. It remains unclear what steps the United States plans to take towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
High-level talks on Oct 15
Seoul's Unification Ministry said on Friday the two Koreas would hold high-level talks on Monday at the border village of Panmunjom to discuss the implementation of the Pyongyang Declaration, which Moon and Kim signed in their summit meeting in Pyongyang last month.
The senior-level dialogue would be held on Oct 15 at the Peace House, a ROK building in the truce village of Panmunjom
The senior-level dialogue would be held on Oct 15 at the Peace House, a ROK building in the truce village of Panmunjom. The ROK delegation would be led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.
During the talks, the two sides would discuss ways to implement the Pyongyang Declaration and determine schedule for the follow-up working-level dialogues, according to the unification ministry.
The ministry said the ROK government would speed up the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration and the Pyongyang Declaration to advance the inter-Korean relations to a higher level, while continuing efforts for peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula.
Moon and Kim signed the Panmunjom Declaration after their first summit at the border village in April, and the Pyongyang Declaration in Pyongyang last month.
HONG KONG NEWS