US, NK narrow gaps on end of war and nuclear facility disclosure: report
SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) - The US and North Korea significantly narrowed their differences during last week’s working-level talks, setting the stage for discussion of more specific steps toward denuclearization, local media reported Monday.
Citing unnamed South Korean sources, local news outlets said the US and North Korea had agreed to include certain clauses in the joint statement to follow the second US-North Korea summit. One will concern a declaration of the end of the Korean War and another will concern the disclosure of information about North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility.
According to reports, those provisions were agreed to by Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, during his trip to Pyongyang last week. Biegun returned to Washington from Seoul on Sunday, having returned to the South on Saturday after a three-day trip to Pyongyang.
Local daily Dong-A Ilbo quoted an unnamed government official as saying that Biegun and North Korean officials had exchanged presentations on denuclearization plans, and that those presentations included topics that had not been discussed before.
Saying the US and North Korea had obtained a basic level of common ground, local media reported that the two sides would discuss specific steps such as the easing of sanctions and the shutdown of Yongbyon and other nuclear facilities in the planned working-level talks.
According to Cheong Wa Dae, the US and North Korea will hold another round of working-level talks in an Asian country before the Feb. 27-28 summit between US President Donald Trump and the North’s Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Regarding the reports, however, Seoul’s presidential office declined to comment, saying only that it was not in a position to verify the claims.
While the US and North Korea continue working-level talks in the run-up to the second summit, South Korea appears to be maintaining close communication with the US.
Ahead of his departure, Biegun met with South Korea’s National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha and briefed them on his trip to Pyongyang.
In addition, President Moon Jae-in is planning a telephone conversation with Trump regarding the matter. The timing of the conversation, however, has not yet been determined.
Kang is also reportedly planning to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the near future on the sidelines of a multilateral conference.