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(2nd LD) Moon says N. Korea denuclearization talks on right track

All Headlines 18:28 July 12, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with more remarks, additional information, background in paras 6-10; ADDS photos)

SINGAPORE, July 12 (Yonhap) -- Talks on ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions are on the right track despite possible difficulties down the road, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday, according to his top press secretary.

"Negotiations between North Korea and the United States are now on the right track," Moon was quoted as saying.

"No one can be sure of a positive outcome yet, but I carefully predict that North Korea-U.S. negotiations may produce enough success if North Korea implements its complete denuclearization and the international community join their efforts to guarantee North Korea's security," he added, according to his top press secretary Yoon Young-chan.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shake hands after a joint press conference to announce the outcome of their bilateral summit held in Singapore on July 12, 2018. (Yonhap)

The remarks were made in Moon's meeting with Singaporean President Halimah Yacob and a summit with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong held here.

Such remarks come amid a possible gap between Washington and Pyongyang on how to move ahead with the denuclearization process, which became more apparent following U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's latest trip to the communist nation that marked the start of high-level denuclearization dialogue.

Meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo after his North Korea trip, Pompeo said the denuclearization process began to move forward.

North Korea, on the other hand, accused the U.S. of making "gangster-like" demands for its unconditional and complete denuclearization in a statement issued immediately after Pompeo's departure.

Moon said the North Korean statement was only the kind of complaint often seen in negotiations.

"North Korea criticized the U.S. in a statement issued by its foreign ministry, but what the statement contains is a complaint about it sincerely taking all practical measures and the U.S. not taking corresponding measures," he said, according to Yoon.

"I believe it is a strategy that can often be seen in negotiations," Moon added.

President Moon also noted the negotiations may take time and even face many difficulties.

"There are mixed views but I believe the two sides have entered a normal process and that practical working-level negotiations have been launched," Yoon quoted him as saying.

The South Korean leader also insisted they now had better chance than ever to finally rid North Korea of its nuclear ambition.

"There have been questions if the denuclearization North Korea has been talking about was the same as the denuclearization the U.S. and South Korea have been talking about," Moon said. "Secretary Pompeo's North Korea visit has confirmed that there is no difference between the two on the concept of denuclearization."

"Another important point is that what North Korea is demanding from the U.S. is not the removal of sanctions or economic compensation like in the past but the termination of their hostile relationship and establishment of trust," Moon added, apparently implying that the success of the denuclearization talks may be much more likely.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and Singaporean President Halimah Yacob (R) hold a meeting at Singapore's presidential palace Istana on July 12, 2018. (Yonhap)

President Halimah said Singapore and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will continue to support and assist President Moon and his country in their efforts to build peace, according to Yoon.

Moon is currently on a three-day state visit to Singapore that began Wednesday.

His trip follows the historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, held exactly one month earlier in Singapore.

Singapore is currently serving as the chair of the 10-member ASEAN.


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