The Donald Trump administration said it is ready to engage in talks with North Korea, just one day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a joint declaration in Pyongyang. Washington's move toward resuming dialogue came after Pyongyang pledged on Wednesday to dismantle its key missile facilities and suggested it would permanently shut down its main Yongbyon nuclear facility if Washington took "corresponding" actions. However, the second round of North Korea-U.S. negotiations are expected to be a tough process, as Washington stressed that Pyongyang should complete its "finally, fully verified denuclearization" by January 2021.
"We welcome President Moon and Chairman Kim's reaffirmation of the Singapore joint statement of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, including the permanent dismantlement of all facilities at Yongbyon in the presence of U.S. and IAEA inspectors," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement issued on Wednesday (local time). He added that his country is "prepared to engage immediately in negotiations to transform U.S.-DPRK relations." The DPRK, which stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is North Korea's official name.
"This morning, I invited my counterpart Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho to meet in New York City next week where we are both already scheduled to be in attendance at the United Nations General Assembly meeting. Likewise, we have invited North Korean representatives to meet our Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, in Vienna, Austria at the earliest opportunity," Pompeo said. He offered simultaneous two-track negotiations with the North in New York and Vienna, ahead of the U.S. midterm elections slated for November 6.
Pompeo's mention of the presence of U.S. and IAEA inspectors at the dismantlement of the Yongbyon nuclear complex was not included in the latest inter-Korean joint declaration in Pyongyang. This has prompted speculations that Kim probably expressed his willingness to accept the international inspection in a letter that he is presumed to have sent to U.S. President Donald Trump just before the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang. Just one hour after the announcement of the Pyongyang declaration, Trump tweeted that Kim Jong Un had "agreed to allow Nuclear inspections."
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