South Korea says US designation of North Korea as terrorist sponsor will contribute to denuclearisation

South Korea's foreign ministry said the announcement will not change the joint stance of South Korea and the United States in trying to bring North Korea to dialogue.
South Korea's foreign ministry said the announcement will not change the joint stance of South Korea and the United States in trying to bring North Korea to dialogue. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea's foreign ministry said on Tuesday (Nov 21) the United States' decision to put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism is expected to contribute to the peaceful denuclearisation of the North.

The announcement will not change the joint stance of South Korea and the United States in trying to bring North Korea to dialogue, the ministry said in a text message to reporters.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry said it hoped all parties could contribute to resolving the issue on the Korean peninsula peacefully.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China had noted the reports on the U.S. decision. “Currently, the situation on the Korean peninsula is complicated and sensitive,” Lu told a daily news briefing.

“We still hope all relevant parties can do more to alleviate the situation and do more that is conducive to all relevant parties returning to the correct path of negotiation, dialogue and consultation to resolve the peninsula nuclear issue.”

The move will further weigh on the “precarious situation” on the peninsula, China’s official Xinhua news agency said in an English-language editorial.

“The prospect of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula has been pushed farther away by one after another irresponsible action or blaring rhetoric,” it said.

This year’s rapid escalation of tension was largely down to a “game of chicken” between Washington and Pyongyang, it added.

The US decision, announced on Monday, allows Washington to impose more sanctions on Pyongyang, which is pursuing nuclear weapons and missile programmes in defiance of United Nations Security Council sanctions.

President Trump, who has traded personal insults with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but has not ruled out talks, said the Treasury Department will announce additional sanctions against North Korea on Tuesday.

The designation came a week after Mr Trump returned from a 12-day, five-nation trip to Asia in which he made containing North Korea's nuclear ambitions a centerpiece of his discussions.

"In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil," Mr Trump told reporters at the White House.

 

"This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime."

 

Mr Trump, who has often criticised his predecessors' policies toward Pyongyang, said the designation should have been made "a long time ago."

 

North Korea has made no secret of its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland. It has fired two missiles over Japan and on Sept 3 fired its sixth and largest nuclear test.

South Korea's spy agency said on Monday the North may conduct additional missile tests this year to improve its long-range missile technology and ramp up the threat against the United States.