US, S. Korea, Japan discuss Korean denuclearisation

SEOUL • The top national security advisers of the United States, South Korea and Japan met to discuss North Korea and the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", South Korea's Blue House said yesterday.

South Korea's National Security Office chief Chung Eui Yong met US National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and Japan's National Security Adviser Shotaro Yachi on Saturday and Sunday to discuss future meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In, as well as between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump, the Blue House said in a statement.

The people in attendance agreed that "it was important to not repeat the mistakes of the past" and agreed to work closely for the coming weeks, the Blue House said.

During a visit to Pyongyang by Seoul's envoys including Mr Chung earlier this month, Mr Kim reportedly offered to meet Mr Trump, with the US President subsequently agreeing to talks by May. No specific time or venue has been set.

According to the South Korean envoys, Mr Kim offered to consider abandoning his nuclear weapons in exchange for US security guarantees.

The North has been silent on Mr Trump's acceptance of what would be the first summit between the leaders of the US and North Korea.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha said in an interview aired on Sunday that Mr Kim was "taking stock" after Mr Trump's surprise decision to accept the invitation, but that a channel of communication had been established.

FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH

The significance of his word is quite, quite weighty in the sense that this is the first time that the words came directly from the North Korean supreme leader himself.

SOUTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER KANG KYUNG WHA

She said Mr Kim had "given his word" on his commitment to denuclearisation.

"But the significance of his word is quite, quite weighty in the sense that this is the first time that the words came directly from the North Korean supreme leader himself... That has never been done before," she told CBS's Face The Nation programme.

Nothing has been offered to the North Koreans to engage in negotiations, she said.

Dr Kang, who was in Brussels for a European Union meeting of foreign ministers, was briefed by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom on the latter's meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

Dr Kang and her Swedish counterpart have agreed to cooperate closely on making the upcoming summits with North Korea a "turning point" in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue and bringing lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula, South Korea's foreign ministry said.

CNN said the release of three Americans jailed in North Korea was also discussed at three-day talks in Stockholm between Mr Ri and Ms Wallstrom that ended last Saturday.

The release of the three Korean-Americans is under discussion through multiple channels more than a week after Mr Trump agreed to meet Mr Kim, reports said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline 'US, S. Korea, Japan discuss Korean denuclearisation'. Print Edition | Subscribe