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FM says 'complete denuclearization' remains S. Korea's goal

North Korea 17:36 July 03, 2019

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's goal in the North Korean nuclear issue is none other than complete denuclearization, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Wednesday, amid speculation that the United States may settle for a nuclear freeze.

Talk of a nuclear freeze rose significantly after a New York Times report that U.S. officials may abandon their goal of getting North Korea to completely give up its nuclear programs. The report came after Sunday's surprise meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"Complete denuclearization is clearly the position of our government," Kang told a parliamentary meeting in response to a lawmaker's question about whether the government would oppose it if the U.S. moves toward a nuclear freeze.

Asked if there is any change in the U.S. strategy, Kang said she doesn't believe so.

"We also confirmed through the Korea-U.S. summit this time that we share (the goal of) complete denuclearization," she said.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday (U.S. time) that it is not preparing for any new proposals, reiterating that its "goal remains the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea."

Nuclear negotiations hit an impasse as the second U.S.-N.K. summit in Hanoi broke down without a deal. They failed to bridge the gap between the scope of the North's denuclearization and sanctions relief by Washington.

At Sunday's meeting held at the inter-Korean border of the DMZ, Trump and Kim agreed to resume negotiations.

Kang said she received a detailed briefing on the talks from the U.S. side and finds that they were "very positive" talks.

The DMZ meeting also demonstrates the trust between Seoul and Washington, as otherwise it would not have been possible to arrange such contact under a tight schedule and with limited time, she said.

"We can imagine that President Trump could make as many out-of-the-box moves as he likes anytime in the future."

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks during a parliamentary session at the National Assembly in Seoul on July 3, 2019. (Yonhap)

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaks during a parliamentary session at the National Assembly in Seoul on July 3, 2019. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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