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(3rd LD) N. Korea agrees to additional denuclearization steps in Korean summit

All Headlines 12:45 September 19, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information, background in paras 9-14; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea agreed to take additional steps toward making the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons and threats of armed conflict Wednesday, in an apparent gesture to restart its denuclearization talks with the United States.

The agreement came in a historic summit between its leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held in Pyongyang.

"The South and the North also discussed denuclearization steps for the first time," Moon said of his talks with Kim in a joint press conference held at the North's state guesthouse Paekhwawon.

"The North has agreed to permanently shut down its Dongchang-ri missile engine testing facility and missile launch pad under the participation of experts from related countries," the South Korean president said in the press conference, broadcast live in Seoul.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands after holding a joint press conference at the North's state guesthouse Paekhwawon to announce the outcome of their bilateral summit in Pyongyang on Sept. 19, 2018. (Yonhap)

Kim said he and Moon agreed to remove all nuclear weapons and threats from the Korean Peninsula.

"The September declaration will open a higher level for the improvement in relations (between the South and the North) ... and bring closer the era of peace and prosperity," Kim said of his agreement signed with Moon after their two-day talks in Pyongyang.

In the agreement, later released by Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, the North agreed to take additional denuclearization steps following corresponding steps by the United States to reward the impoverished North.

"The North expressed its willingness to continue taking additional steps, such as permanent shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility, should the United States take corresponding measures under the spirit of the June 12 North Korea-U.S. joint statement," it said.

Pyongyang is said to be demanding early rewards for denuclearization steps it has taken so far, while Washington continues to stress the importance of maximum pressure and sanctions against the North until the communist state fully denuclearizes.

The North's offer to take additional denuclearization steps despite any signs of reward from the U.S. is apparently aimed at restarting its denuclearization talks with the U.S.

The talks have stalled after U.S. President Donald Trump called off a scheduled North Korea trip by his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing what he called a lack of progress in the North's denuclearization process.

Even before the start of his three-day trip to Pyongyang on Tuesday, the South Korean president said the main objective of his trip was to restart the U.S.-North Korea dialogue.

Moon insisted the North's agreement also marked the first time for the Koreas to discuss detailed steps to denuclearization.

"I hope the talks between the North and the U.S. quickly resume," he told the joint press conference.

Kim said he has also agreed to visit Seoul in the near future.

Moon said the near future, barring unforeseen conditions, meant before the year's end.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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