Kim plans to declare readiness to denuclearise, says Seoul

South Korean soldiers standing guard before the military demarcation line at the border truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone last Wednesday. A news report said the two Koreas are discussing plans to announce an official end to the mil
South Korean soldiers standing guard before the military demarcation line at the border truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone last Wednesday. A news report said the two Koreas are discussing plans to announce an official end to the military conflict between them.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SEOUL • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un plans to formally announce his willingness to denuclearise his country when he meets President Moon Jae In of South Korea this month, an official from the South has said.

The statement is expected to be part of a joint declaration that the two leaders will adopt when they meet on April 27, said Mr Moon's chief of staff, Mr Im Jong Seok, at a briefing yesterday.

Negotiators from both Koreas have agreed on a rough framework for the joint declaration, he added.

The two Koreas, which are still technically at war, are also discussing plans to announce an official end to the military conflict between them in their joint statement next week, the Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unidentified South Korean official.

If necessary, Mr Moon's national security adviser, Mr Chung Eui Yong, and his spy chief, Mr Suh Hoon, will visit the North Korean capital of Pyongyang again to resolve any significant issues before the summit meeting, Mr Im said.

When Mr Chung and Mr Suh visited Mr Kim last month as special envoys, Mr Kim told them he would be willing to discuss giving up his nuclear weapons if his government no longer felt threatened militarily and its security was guaranteed.

"Although the special envoys have already confirmed a willingness to denuclearise, it will make a difference if the two heads of state will meet and more clearly confirm it and make it a formal statement," Mr Im told reporters yesterday.

A direct phone line between Mr Moon and Mr Kim may be connected around Friday, said Mr Im, adding that it has not been decided when they will hold their first conversation.

No peace treaty has been signed to replace the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, and the United States and North Korea have been at loggerheads since formal hostilities ended.

The peninsula remains bisected in a perpetual stalemate, with the US-backed South Korean military lined up against more than a million North Korean troops.

NYTIMES, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2018, with the headline 'Kim plans to declare readiness to denuclearise, says Seoul'. Print Edition | Subscribe