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South Korean president says talks won't ease pressure on North Korea

South Korean president says talks won't ease pressure on North Korea

The US Department of State announced on Tuesday it would slap new sanctions on North Korea for using the chemical warfare agent VX to assassinate Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader's half-brother, in the Kuala Lumpur airport last year.

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed North Korea's breakthrough offer of denuclearization talks as positive-and apparently sincere-saying on Tuesday the standoff over Pyongyang's weapons drive would not be allowed to "fester".

The two countries agreed to hold a summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Demilitarized Zone in late April, according to Seoul. At the time Hill wrote, "The idea that North Korea will abandon its weapons programs in exchange for the promise of security and regime survival has failed whenever it has been tested".

"This public display of contempt for universal norms against chemical weapons use further demonstrates the reckless nature of North Korea and underscores that we cannot afford to tolerate a North Korean WMD program of any kind".

An initial hurdle, however, could be presented by U.S. -South Korean military drills that were postponed during the Olympics and are due to resume next month.

The council also banned North Korea's export of food and agricultural products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stone including magnesite and magnesia, wood and vessels. "But given that the immediate dismantlement of it may be difficult, I think we can go through a certain road map before reaching that dismantlement stage".

Moon also rejected speculation that there were secret agreements his envoys reached with the North during their trip to Pyongyang.

Duyeon Kim, a senior research fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in Seoul, told CNN it was now up to negotiators to seize on the opportunity presented by the summit and potential talks with the US.

On multiple occasions, Kim's father Kim Jong-Il dangled the prospect of talks and denuclearization as a means of buying time, easing sanctions and dividing South Korea from its allies.

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The US has 28,500 troops in South Korea, and it is unclear if North Korea counts this as the "military threat" it wants removed.

International sanctions "can't be weakened" despite the recent inter-Korean rapprochement, the President said.

The Pentagon nevertheless said it was "cautiously optimistic" about the North-South talks, which resumed in January for the first time in two years.

It is not clear if they are embellishing the message's significance, or who the private message is addressed to. But Pyongyang could very well detach Seoul from its alliance with Washington, particularly if President Trump still looks to be more belligerent. It is another indication of what is possible, a world - not just North Korea - without nuclear weapons.

"We need to pay attention to this because in my opinion, the biggest danger North Korea presents is the ability to damage our alliances in Asia and damage our ability to remain an Asian power", Gregson warned.

Next month's summit will be the third meeting between the leaders of North and South, after summits in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007. This commitment comes even as the U.S. and South Korean militaries prepare to start huge annual drills that North Korea considers preparation for an invasion and that typically lead to a sudden increase in tensions on the peninsula.

Moon said on Wednesday he had suggested to the North a rough roadmap progressing from a nuclear freeze to denuclearization, an opposition party chair told reporters after meeting with him. The North also made clear that there is no reason for them to possess nuclear weapons as long as military threats to the North are eliminated and the regime's security is guaranteed.

No wonder that the North Koreans are suspicious of US motivations for the peninsula (for more on this, see the Tricontinental dossier, Crisis in the Korea Peninsula).

For now, the Trump administration looks like it won't be fooled again.