August 03, 2018 12:24
New U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris on Thursday cautioned against rushing to declare an end to the Korean War before North Korea denuclearizes.
"One of the things that hasn't happened is the demonstrable moves toward denuclearization before we can entertain something like the end-of-war declaration," Harris told reporters at his official residence. "I think for the denuclearization to happen, we need to see the move, and I haven't seen that yet."
Harris stressed that South Korea and the U.S. must be in synch in negotiating a formal end to the Korean War and that the process must not be rushed. He added that a good starting point for the North would be to reveal a full list of its nuclear facilities.
Asked about his views on North Korea's moves to dismantle a missile test site, Harris pointed out that no international experts have been invited to verify it. Verification, he said, is "central", and stressed that what the U.S. is after is "final fully verified denuclearization."
Harris added that the U.S. is grateful to North Korea for handing over the remains of American soldiers who were killed during the war, but he stressed there must be no confusion between humanitarian issues and denuclearization. He said sanctions will continue as long as the North refuses to give up its weapons of mass destruction.
But Harris said major South Korea-U.S. military exercises will remain suspended until "constructive talks continue" with North Korea. A decision to resume the joint drills will depend on progress in North Korea's denuclearization.
U.S. President Donald Trump originally appointed Harris ambassador to Australia, but reassigned him to Seoul. Harris said South Korea is a place where "peace and tension" co-exist and that he is "very excited" to be here.
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