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Korea says it won't denuclearize unless US removes threat

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Patty Aguilar | 20 December, 2018, 18:36

The United States is willing to lift sanctions on North Korea after the country dismantles its nuclear weapons program, the State Department said Tuesday.

The U.S. Special Representative for North Korea will arrive in Seoul in the coming hours for talks with his South Korean counterpart.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a joint statement after their historic meeting in Singapore in June that reaffirmed the North's commitment to "work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" and gave US guarantees of security to North Korea.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who met Kim three times this year and lobbied hard for the Trump-Kim meeting, has said Kim wasn't demanding the withdrawal of US troops from the Korean Peninsula as a precondition for abandoning his nuclear weapons.

Through a state-run newspaper, the government of North Korea has indicated that it will not denuclearize until the U.S.

"When we refer to the "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" as well, it should be correctly understood as removing all nuclear threat factors from not only the North and the South but from all neighboring areas".

When talking about the Korean peninsula, it encompasses not only our republic's territory but also South Korea where the American nuclear weapons and armed forces for invasion are spread out.

The United States removed its tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea in the 1990s.

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But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

A second summit between Trump and Kim - who exchanged personal insults and threats of war throughout 2017 - is expected to take place next year.

Washington enacted the ban shortly after the death of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who spent almost 17 months detained in North Korea on espionage charges. But Kim has never made such comments in public.

It urged the USA to give up the "delusion" of forcing the North to give up its nuclear arsenal "unilaterally" through "pressure and coercion".

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul did not provide details about Stephen Biegun's visit to Panmunjom.

North Korea handled the man's case "expeditiously and with great discretion", giving American officials "greater confidence about the safety and security of Americans travelling" to North Korea, Biegun said.

The two Koreas plan to hold a ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday for their project to reconnect rail and road links, which would need USA sanctions exemptions.

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