(3rd LD) Trump says N. Korea must denuclearize to tap potential
(ATTN: UPDATES with North Korean ambassador's attendance in paras 14-15; ADDS photo)
By Lee Haye-ah
WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that North Korea must denuclearize in order to tap its "tremendous" economic potential.
In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Trump said he delivered that message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
His remarks come as the United States and North Korea are expected to resume working-level denuclearization negotiations in the coming weeks.
"I've told Kim Jong-un what I truly believe -- that, like Iran, his country is full of tremendous, untapped potential, but that to realize that promise, North Korea must denuclearize," Trump said.
Trump and Kim have had three meetings since June 2018 to negotiate the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons program in exchange for U.S. economic and political concessions.
On Monday, Trump said another meeting "could happen soon," although likely after there has been progress in the working-level talks.
The two sides have been apart on how much the North should denuclearize before receiving sanctions relief and security guarantees from the U.S.
The second Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam in February ended without a deal after the two sides failed to bridge that gap.
At a third impromptu meeting at the inter-Korean border in June, Trump and Kim agreed to resume working-level negotiations within several weeks, but the talks did not materialize.
Earlier this month, the North offered to hold talks in late September and demanded the U.S. come up with a new proposal acceptable to Pyongyang.
Trump's speech to the U.N. was watched closely for hints of a fresh message to the North. Last week, he suggested that a "new method" could help break the impasse, but did not elaborate. Still, Pyongyang welcomed those remarks.
Trump's only other comment on North Korea Tuesday was a reference to his administration's "bold diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula" as part of its efforts to "choose peace" over war.
In 2017, he used the same forum to threaten North Korea's total destruction, while in 2018, he touted his administration's engagement with Pyongyang "to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace."
North Korean Ambassador to the U.N. Kim Song sat in the audience as Trump spoke. His predecessor, Ja Song-nam, had left the hall when Trump began to deliver his speech in 2017.
Kim is scheduled to deliver his own remarks to the U.N. General Assembly Monday, a departure from the last three years, when North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho was sent to represent the country. Ri is reportedly skipping this year's event.
Trump also spoke Tuesday of his commitment to getting allies to pay more for their military defense.
The U.S. president has previously singled out South Korea, claiming that the country paid "very little" to the U.S. in past decades but has now agreed to pay "substantially more."
This week, Seoul and Washington launched negotiations to renew their cost-sharing deal for the upkeep of 28,500 American troops stationed in the South.
"As we rebuild the unrivaled might of the American military," Trump said, "We are also revitalizing our alliances by making it very clear that all of our partners are expected to pay their fair share of the tremendous defense burden which the United States has borne in the past."
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