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Seoul, Tokyo, Washington affirm denuclearization goal

July 09,2018
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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, center, and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, right, pose for a photo during talks in Tokyo on Sunday. [YONHAP]
Sanctions on Pyongyang won’t be lifted until the regime completely gives up its nuclear weapons, the top diplomats of Seoul, Washington and Tokyo reaffirmed Sunday during a trilateral meeting in Japan.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono came together in Tokyo for their second three-way meeting since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held their historic summit on June 12 in Singapore.

Pompeo traveled from Pyongyang to Tokyo on Saturday to brief his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the outcome of his discussions with high-level North Korean officials, the first since the Trump-Kim summit.

Pompeo touched down in Pyongyang on Friday, making his third visit to the North in this year to flesh out the agreements made in the Trump-Kim meeting.

Pompeo, who said he had “very productive” talks with the North last week, said during a press conference Sunday that the fact that Washington was holding denuclearization negotiations with the regime wasn’t enough to ease sanctions, stressing they will remain in place until the country follows through on complete, verifiable denuclearization.

The secretary of state refuted Pyongyang’s accusation that his delegation presented “gangster-like” demands during the talks last week, saying, “If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster because there was a unanimous decision at the UN Security Council about what needs to be achieved.”

Pompeo was referring to a statement issued by an unnamed spokesperson for the North’s Foreign Affairs Ministry that was published in the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Saturday, shortly after he departed Pyongyang, in which the North berated the U.S. for unilaterally demanding the regime to comply with complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, or CVID, without ever mentioning the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, which the North was apparently more interested in.

“I know actually what precisely took place,” Pompeo said of last week’s high-level talks.

“When we spoke to them about the scope of denuclearization, they did not push back.”

Pompeo continued that Kim was making a promise to the world that his country would denuclearize when he said so during his summit with Trump last month.

Pompeo said he did not meet Kim last week, unlike on his two previous visits to the North, but still was able to accomplish his mission.

The three diplomats used different terms for North Korea’s denuclearization in the press conference but denied they were actually different from one another, with Pompeo saying that the kernel of the issue was that North Korea understood the meaning of denuclearization.

Pompeo referred to the “final, fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea, Japan’s Foreign Minister Kono referred to CVID and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang referred to “complete denuclearization.”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]