South Korea, US firm up policy to persuade North Korea to give up nuclear weapons

South Korean President Moon Jae In (right) meets with Matt Pottinger (left), US National Security Council (NSC) director for East Asia, at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul, South Korea, on May 16, 2017.
South Korean President Moon Jae In (right) meets with Matt Pottinger (left), US National Security Council (NSC) director for East Asia, at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul, South Korea, on May 16, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL, South Korea (NYTIMES) - South Korea and the United States have agreed to use all means, "including sanctions and dialogue," to try to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programme, the South's presidential office said on Tuesday (May 16) after a meeting with an aide to President Donald Trump.

The aide, Mr Matthew Pottinger, Asia director on the National Security Council, met with Mr Chung Eui Yong, an adviser to the new South Korean president, and other foreign policy aides in Seoul, the capital.

In their meeting at the Blue House, the presidential palace, the two sides followed up on a recent telephone conversation between President Moon Jae In and Mr Trump, who agreed to hold a summit meeting in Washington soon.

On Tuesday, Mr Pottinger and Mr Chung agreed to work toward a summit meeting in late June, said Mr Moon's spokesman, Mr Yoon Young Chan.

The two countries also confirmed that Mr Moon and Mr Trump shared four broad principles in dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis, Mr Yoon said.

"First, the ultimate goal is to completely dismantle the North Korean nuclear weapons," he said. "Second, to that end, both sides will employ all means, including sanctions and dialogue. Third, dialogue with North Korea is possible when the circumstances are right. Fourth, to achieve these goals, South Korea and the United States will pursue drastic and practical joint approaches."

Mr Moon briefly stopped by the meeting to greet Mr Pottinger, Mr Yoon said.

Mr Pottinger's visit came two days after North Korea launched a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, considered more powerful than any other missile North Korea has deployed. The successful test on Sunday (May 14) highlighted the North's growing missile and nuclear threats.

Unlike his two conservative predecessors, Mr Moon, a liberal, has emphasised the importance of dialogue in dealing with North Korea, saying that his predecessors' hard line, which focused on sanctions, had failed to prevent the North from expanding its nuclear weapons and missiles arsenal.

Mr Moon has said that he would meet with the North Korean leader, Mr Kim Jong Un, if the circumstances were right.