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US offers 'unique' security guarantees if N Korea denuclearises

June 11, 2018 21:24 IST

IMAGE: US President Donald Trump waves next to Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan after arriving in Singapore on Sunday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The United States on Monday offered 'unique' security guarantees to North Korea in return for a 'complete, verifiable and irreversible' denuclearisation as the two sides made 'progress' in negotiations on the eve of a historic summit between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore that could reshape the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific region.


Ahead of the much-anticipated summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island, Trump hoped that a 'nice' outcome could be reached from what he said would be a 'very interesting meeting' with Kim which will focus on the nuclear arsenal the North has spent decades developing.

The summit -- the first between a sitting US president and the North Korean leader -- will mark a turnaround of relations between Trump and Kim after a long-running exchange of furious threats and insults.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the preparatory talks were 'moving quite rapidly' and he expected them to reach what he called 'a logical conclusion' even earlier than the US anticipated.

"President Trump is going into this meeting with confidence, a positive attitude, and eagerness for real progress," he said.

"He has made it clear that if Kim Jong Un denuclearises there is a brighter future for North Korea. Tomorrow, we will get our clearest indication to date of whether Kim Jong Un truly shares this vision."

"A complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea is the only outcome that the US will accept at the summit," Pompeo told reporters at a crowded press conference.

In return, he said, Washington would offer 'different and unique' guarantees 'to provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearisation is not something that ends badly for them'.

Pompeo refused to go into details of the security guarantees the US would offer to North Korea.

But he said, "We will take actions to provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearisation is not something that ends badly for them."

However, sanctions on North Korea will remain until denuclearisation has been achieved, he said.

"President Trump believes that Kim has an unprecedented opportunity to change the trajectory of our relationship and bring peace and prosperity to his country," Pompeo said.

"The fact that our two leaders are sitting down face-to-face is a sign of the enormous potential to accomplish something that will immensely benefit both of our peoples and the entire world," he said.

He said previous American administrations have been "fooled" by North Korea but the Trump Administration has got experts on non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction on the ground to verify Pyongyang's willingness to denuclearise.

Pompeo said President Trump is fully prepared for the meeting with Kim.

National Security Council spokesman Robert Palladino said President Trump intends to meet one on one with Kim. "We can expect a one on one at the beginning," Palladino said.

The diplomats from the two sides are engaged in hectic parleys behind closed doors to narrow their differences.

The summit could lay the groundwork for ending a nuclear stand-off between the two countries and see Pyongyang dismantle its arsenal in return for economic help and security guarantees.

A peace treaty ending the 1950-53 Korean War may also be on the table. North and South Koreas remain technically at war as the conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

An agreement on this could reshape the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific region and bring millions of North Koreans out of famine and isolation.

'Wide-ranging and profound views on the issue of establishing new DPRK-US relations, the issue of building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean peninsula, the issue of realising the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and other issues of mutual concern, as required by the changed era, will be exchanged at the DPRK-US summit talks,' North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Both Trump and Kim separately met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and thanked him for hosting the summit.

The two leaders have had an extraordinary up-and-down relationship over the past 18 months.

Trump had called Kim 'Little Rocket Man' and threatened to unleash 'fire and fury like the world has never seen' on North Korea as it conducted several ballistic missile tests in defiance of international warnings.

In return, Kim called Trump 'mentally deranged' and a 'dotard'.

But in March, Trump surprised the world by accepting an invitation from Kim to meet in person.

But last month, Trump abruptly cancelled the summit, citing the 'tremendous anger and open hostility' by Pyongyang. However, he took a U-turn soon and said the White House was proceeding with the preparations for the summit.

Singapore will spend about 20 million dollars ($15 million) to host the historic summit between Trump and Kim, which is being covered by nearly 3,000 journalists from across the world.

Singapore is one of the few countries that have diplomatic relations with both the US and North Korea.

Meanwhile, the White House says Trump now plans to depart Singapore on Tuesday evening ahead of schedule. Trump had been expected to leave Singapore on Wednesday morning.

Gurdip Singh in Singapore
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