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(LEAD) N.K. announces freeze on nuclear, missile tests, shutdown of nuke test site

All Headlines 07:15 April 21, 2018

(ATTN: REWRITES headline; UPDATES with more info throughout)

SEOUL, April 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has announced that the country will suspend nuclear and missile tests and shut down a nuclear test site in the northern area, state media said Saturday.

The announcement came as North Korea is preparing to hold summits with South Korea and the United States.

"From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles," the Korean Central News Agency said, citing the outcome of a key meeting of the ruling party held Friday.

"The North will shut down a nuclear test site in the country's northern side to guarantee transparency in suspending nuclear tests," it added.

North Korea has conducted all of its six nuclear tests at the Punggye-ri test site in the northeastern province since 2006. The North's latest and most powerful nuclear test was conducted in September last year.

The decision was made at the plenary meeting of the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), which drew keen attention over whether the North would possibly unveil a shift in stance toward its nuclear programs.

Kim is set to hold a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next Friday, followed by a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in May or early June.


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