September 07, 2018 12:27
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday promised a five-member South Korean delegation to scrap his nuclear weapons before U.S. President Donald Trump's first four-year term ends. The U.S. holds its next presidential election in November 2020.
"He made it clear that his trust in President Trump remains -- and will remain -- unchanged, even though there have recently been some difficulties in negotiations between the North and the United States," national security adviser Chung Eui-yong told reporters Thursday. "He said he wished he could eliminate 70 years of hostile history with the United States, improve North Korea-U.S. relations and realize denuclearization within the first term of President Trump."
Chung added Kim has not spoken negatively about Trump even to his closest advisers. But Kim also complained that the international community has not shown enough appreciation of the steps he has already taken to end nuclear and missile tests.
Kim said he took "preemptive measures toward denuclearization and hoped that the moves would be interpreted as gestures of goodwill," Chung said.
The measures he mentioned were the demolition of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in May and the closure of a missile engine testing facility in Tongchang-ri. According to Chung, Kim said, "Two-thirds of the underground tunnels inside the Punggye-ri test site have completely caved in, permanently disabling it," and adding, "The Tongchang-ri missile test site is the only one of its kind in North Korea and its closure signifies a complete halt to long-range ballistic missile tests."
Kim "voiced frustration over the continued suspicions of the international community in spite of such meaningful measures," Chung added.
The reaction was ecstatic. President Moon Jae-in said in a meeting on Thursday, "The special envoy and his delegation brought back results that exceeded our expectations. We can now hope to see U.S.-North Korean dialogue pick up the pace to achieve complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula."
Trump was quick to respond on his favorite medium. "Kim Jong-un of North Korea proclaims 'unwavering faith in President Trump.' Thank you to Chairman Kim," he tweeted Thursday. "We will get it done together!"
That leaves Moon with the urgent task of mediating differences between the U.S. and North Korea when he meets Kim from Sept. 18 to 20 in Pyongyang and, probably, Trump at the UN Assembly at the end of this month.
The North still wants a formal declaration to the end of the Korean War first, while the U.S. has stepped up sanctions to push for palpable steps toward denuclearization.
Chung spoke over the phone with White House National Security Adviser John Bolton to brief him on his trip.
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