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(LEAD) S. Korea says U.S. stresses will to continue nuke negotiations with N. Korea

All Headlines 17:33 June 01, 2019

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES throughout)
By Oh Seok-min

SINGAPORE/SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's foreign ministry said Saturday that the U.S. has stressed its will to continue nuclear talks with North Korea for progress in implementing their summit agreement to build new bilateral ties and foster a lasting peace on the peninsula.

Washington reiterated its desire to keep up dialogue with the North during the talks between South Korea's chief nuclear envoy, Lee Do-hoon, and his U.S. counterpart, Stephen Biegun, on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Singapore.

"The two sides shared the understanding that the current juncture is a very crucial one for the resumption of the North-U.S. talks and actual progress (in their negotiations), and agreed to closely cooperate for the prompt resumption of the talks," the ministry said in a press release.

"Especially, the U.S. side stressed its will to continue negotiations with the North to achieve progress in all of the commitments made under the joint Singapore statement," it added, referring to the statement that U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed after their first summit in Singapore last June.

The statement includes their commitment to build "new relations" and make joint efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the peninsula, and the North's pledge to work towards the complete denuclearization of the peninsula.

The nuclear parley has been stalled since the second summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi in February collapsed due to their gaps over the scope of Pyongyang's denuclearization and Washington's sanctions relief.

Since then, Pyongyang has been slowly escalating tensions by hardening its rhetoric against Seoul and Washington and launching a fusillade of projectiles, including short-range missiles.

But it stopped short of breaking its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, which Trump has considered as one of his key foreign policy achievements.

Despite the North's escalatory moves, Trump has continued to signal his desire to keep dialogue alive.

Lee Do-hoon (R), Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs; U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun (L); and Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau meet reporters at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore on May 31, 2019, after trilateral talks on North Korea's denuclearization. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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