North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to shut down the country’s nuclear test site in May and open the process to experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States, Seoul’s presidential office said Sunday.
Kim made the comments during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday at a border truce village, where he also expressed optimism about his anticipated meeting with Donald Trump, saying the US president will learn he’s “not a person” to fire missiles toward the United States, Moon’s spokesman Yoon Young-chan said.
Moon and Kim during the summit promised to work toward the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, but made no references to verification or timetables. Seoul had also shuttled between Pyongyang and Washington to set up a potential meeting between Kim and Trump, which is expected next month or early June.
“Once we start talking, the United States will know that I am not a person to launch nuclear weapons at South Korea, the Pacific or the United States,” Yoon quoted Kim as saying.
Yoon said North Korea also plans to re-adjust its current time zone to match the South’s. The North in 2015 created its own “Pyongyang Time” by setting the clock 30 minutes behind the South.
On Saturday, Trump said he will be meeting with Kim in the coming weeks, adding that he would be prepared to leave in the middle of the meeting if it won’t “work out.”
Trump and his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, spoke on Saturday with their South Korean counterparts after the historic meeting between leaders of the two Koreas, and Trump said “things are going very well” as he prepares for his expected summit with Kim.
“I think we will have a meeting over the next three or four weeks that will be a very important meeting… but we’ll see how it goes,” he said at a campaign-style rally in the town of Washington, Michigan
“And again, whatever happens, happens. Look, I may go in. It may not work out. I leave,” he continued. “We’re going to have hopefully a very successful negotiation over the next three or four weeks. And we’ll be doing the world a big favor. We’ll be doing the world a big favor.”
Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo said they were committed to “a diplomatic resolution that achieves complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” of the North, according to the Pentagon’s chief spokeswoman, Dana W. White. Mattis also reaffirmed “the ironclad US commitment” to defend its ally “using the full spectrum of US capabilities. ”
Trump tweeted that he had “a long and very good talk” with President Moon. He also said he updated Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, about “the ongoing negotiations” for his anticipated summit with Kim.
Moon and Kim have pledged to seek a formal end to the Korean War, fought from 1950 to 1953, by year’s end and to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. Trump has said he’s looking forward to the meeting with Kim and that it “should be quite something.”
A statement from the White House describing the call between Trump and Moon also referred to the North’s future being contingent upon “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.”