North Korean leader Kim Jong Un confirmed this week his "unequivocal commitment" to working with the United States and completely denuclearizing the region, reports Bloomberg.
The statement Thursday from the Korean Central News Agency followed a high-level South Korean delegation's visit to Pyongyang to meet with Kim and to set up a summit later this month between him and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
A TV screen shows a photo of South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong UN, right, to advertise upcoming Seoul Defense Dialogue in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018.
"Chairman Kim. expressed frustration over the doubt shown by some parts of the worldwide society about his will", Chung said. "Chairman Kim especially stressed that he has never talked negatively about President Trump to his staff or anyone else".
US officials involved in the latest negotiations have said North Korea has refused to even start discussions about defining denuclearisation or other key terms such as "verifiable" and "irreversible", and has insisted the United States must first agree to simultaneous steps to reduce economic pressure. Dongguk University professor Koh Yu-hwan said it was significant that Kim has finally committed to a timetable for denuclearization, even though he was vague on exactly what he planned to do by the end of President Trump's first term.
The North Korean leader cited his dismantlement of a key nuclear test site and his suspension of missile tests.
The two pledged to denuclearise the Korean peninsula at the Singapore meeting but no details were agreed, and Washington and Pyongyang have sparred since on what that means and how it will be achieved.
According to the South Koreans, despite the hard negotiations Kim never spoke ill of President Trump and said he still wants to end his country's hostile relationship with the U.S.by the end of Mr. Trump's first term.
"There is still an enormous amount of work to do", he said.
Leaders of North and South Korea have agreed to meet on September 18 to discuss "practical measures" towards denuclearisation.
But American officials and conservatives in the South are concerned such a declaration would weaken the US-South Korea alliance and deprive the 28,000 US forces stationed on the peninsula of their deployment rationale.
"If needed, we should pull forward the negotiations for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula with the development in relations between the South and North", Chung said.
"He said he's pre-emptively taken steps necessary for denuclearization and wants to see these goodwill measures being met with goodwill measures", he added. Kim said he'd take "more active" measures toward denuclearization if his moves are met with corresponding goodwill measures, Chung said. It was launched in 2004 during a previous bid to improve relations with the North, and enabled South Korean companies to manufacture products using cheaper North Korean labor.
South Korea's liberal government is keen on keeping engagement with North Korea alive.
US officials believed the Sony hack was retribution for The Interview, a comedy film that starred Seth Rogen and James Franco and centred on a plot to assassinate Kim.
Trump spoke to Moon on the evening before Chung's trip and asked Moon to act as "chief negotiator" between Washington and Pyongyang, the spokesman said.
Seoul and Pyongyang both want a declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice.
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