US President Donald Trump said on Feb. 19 that he expected to see the ultimate denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula while pointing out that he had no pressing schedule for that objective.
Trump told the press on Feb. 19 that he was looking forward to meeting Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), next week in Hanoi, Vietnam. “I think a lot of things will come out of it,” he said.
Trump said he would like to see the ultimate denuclearization of the DPRK, but at the same time noted that he was “in no particular rush” given that the sanctions remain in effect and Pyongyang has refrained from nuclear and missile testing.
“As long as there’s no testing I’m in no rush, if there’s testing that’s another deal … I hope that very positive things are going to happen,” he said.
Trump also said he discussed “probably every aspect” of the second US-DPRK summit with his Republic of Korea (ROK) counterpart Moon Jae-in during a phone conversation the same day.
According to the Office of President Moon, the two leaders intensively discussed ways to cooperate for the success of the upcoming second US-DPRK summit over the phone for about 35 minutes.
The ROK leader said his country was ready to assume any role, if Trump demands, to offer corresponding measures to facilitate denuclearization on the peninsula.
Stephen Biegun, US special representative for DPRK affairs, was on his way to Hanoi in preparation for the summit between Trump and Kim, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said on Feb. 19 at a press briefing.
Trump announced on Feb. 8 that his second meeting with Kim would take place in Hanoi on Feb. 27-28. He met with Kim for the first time in Singapore in June 2018, reaching several consensuses which have led to the improvement of US-DPRK relations.
However, differences on such key issues as the road map of denuclearization, US lifting sanctions and whether to issue a war-ending declaration still haunt the two sides and hinder negotiations.
‘U.S. nuclear threat’
On December 20 North Korean media said denuclearization should include ending ‘U.S. nuclear threat’. Any deal for North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal must include “completely removing the nuclear threats of the U.S.”, North Korean state media said, in one of the clearest explanations of how North Korea sees denuclearization.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a statement after a historic meeting in Singapore in June reaffirming the North’s commitment to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and including U.S. guarantees of security to North Korea.
Conflicting or vague views of what exactly “denuclearization” means, however, have complicated negotiations that now appear stalled.
“When we refer to the Korean peninsula, they include both the area of the DPRK and the area of south Korea where aggression troops including the nuclear weapons of the U.S. are deployed,” the North’s state-run KCNA news agency said in a commentary, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“When we refer to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, it, therefore, means removing all elements of nuclear threats from the areas of both the north and the south of Korea and also from surrounding areas from where the Korean peninsula is targeted.”
On June 12, 2018 Kim and Trump pledged new era of relations. In an about-face, Kim and Trump held a historic meeting in Singapore, where they signalled a desire to change the U.S.-North Korea relationship. The two leaders signed a joint statement pledging to pursue lasting peace and complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, although the declaration provides few details. They also committd to recovering the remains of U.S. soldiers who fought in the Korean War. Separately, Trump said he would suspend U.S.-South Korea military exercises and Kim agreed to destroy a missile-engine test site.
In the third summit between Kim and Moon, on September 20, 2018 in Pyongyang, the leaders signed a joint declaration outlining steps towards reducing tensions, expanding inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation, and achieving denuclearization. It stated that the North will permanently shut down the Dongchang-ri missile test site, allow international inspectors into North Korea, and dismantle its nuclear site pending “corresponding measures” by the United States. An accompanying military declaration outlined steps to curtail ground exercises, establish no-fly and no-sail zones under the jurisdiction of inter-Korean bodies, and transform the demilitarized zone into a peace zone. The two sides also pledged to strengthen economic cooperation.