US offers aid, ties | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 02, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, February 02, 2019

US offers aid, ties

Seeks full account of Pyongyang's weapons, facilities

A US negotiator called Thursday on North Korea to provide a detailed account of its weapons to seal a peace deal, saying President Donald Trump was ready to offer a future that includes diplomatic relations and economic aid.

Trump is set to hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in around a month and said Thursday that he would announce the exact date and venue early next week.

"I think most of you know where the location is. I don't think it's a great secret," he told reporters at the White House.

Vietnam has offered to host the talks.

"We've made tremendous progress with North Korea," said Trump, whose June summit with Kim in Singapore was the first ever between leaders of the two countries that never formally ended the Korean War.

The meeting produced a document in which Kim pledged to work toward the "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

As skeptics voice worry that Trump is overly eager to make a legacy-building deal and enjoy the spotlight of meeting the reclusive leader again, the US special representative on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, said the administration is "clear-eyed" and prepared for contingencies if talks fail.

Biegun painted an upbeat picture at ending decades of hostility despite repeated failures in the past, saying that Trump "is unconstrained by the assumptions of his predecessors."

Preparing the summit, the State Department said Biegun would head tomorrow to South Korea and also meet his North Korean counterpart.

Biegun said the United States would ask North Korea for negotiations on verifying that the totalitarian state is giving up its nuclear weapons.

"Before the process of denuclearization can be final, we must have a complete understanding of the full extent of the North Korean WMD and missile programs through a comprehensive declaration," Biegun said.

"We must reach agreement on expert access and monitoring mechanisms of key sites to international standards, and ultimately ensure the removal or destruction of stockpiles of fissile material, weapons, missiles, launchers and other weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"We are not going to invade North Korea. We are not seeking to topple the regime," he added. He also said that the United States had no intention to pull its 28,500 troops out of South Korea.

With Trump known both for his impulsiveness and his criticism of US defense alliances, observers have wondered whether the nearly seven-decade US troop presence could up for debate.

The United States and South Korea remain at loggerheads on a new agreement on how much Seoul contributes to maintain the troops.

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