TOKYO - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to hold a second summit meeting with President Trump soon to speed up the denuclearization process, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday.
Moon was speaking on his return to Seoul after a three-day summit with Kim in Pyongyang. There, Kim promised to allow external inspectors into his country to verify that a missile test and launch site had been permanently dismantled, and he pledged to permanently disable an important nuclear site if the United States also takes "corresponding steps."
Trump responded to news from the summit by saying he was "very excited," while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was "prepared to engage immediately" with North Korea to move dialogue ahead.
Moon said Kim wanted Pompeo to come to North Korea as well.
"Chairman Kim Jong Un said he wants Secretary Pompeo's North Korea visit and a second summit with President Trump to happen at the earliest convenience in order to speed up the denuclearization process," Moon told reporters in Seoul.
Moon said Kim also told him the closure of a nuclear weapons test site at Punggye-ri could be also subject to international verification. He said he would discuss with Trump his and Kim's goal of declaring an end to the Korean War by the end of this year.
Moon said Trump and Kim had both made pledges at their June summit in Singapore: North Korea promised to take steps toward complete denuclearization and returning the remains of U.S. servicemen killed in the war, while the United States pledged to "end hostilities, guarantee the security of the regime, and establish a new relationship with North Korea," he said.
"Such measures should be taken in a balanced manner between North Korea and the United States," he said. Speaking of the need for North Korea to take denuclearization measures, Moon said "the U.S. should accordingly take corresponding measures to guarantee the security of North Korea step by step."
When asked what the corresponding measures would be, Moon said that needs to be discussed between North Korea and the United States.
Cheong Seong-chang, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute near Seoul, said the announcement shows that Kim has much more specific ideas now about denuclearization and what he wants in return and the next summit should have more specific results.
"The first meeting between Kim Jong Un and Trump yielded a rather general agreement, but now Kim seems to have more concrete idea about what he wants to exchange with Trump," he said. "Given how Kim recently suggested a specific timetable for denuclearization, a more concrete agreement than one in Singapore is expected to come out in the next summit."
The Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice rather than a peace deal. North Korea wants South Korea and the United States to declare the war to be formally over, as a sign that hostilities have ended and to build trust.
"North Korea expressed their willingness to speed up their denuclearization actions if [the United States] takes actions to form a new U.S.-North Korea relationship," Moon said.
Members of Trump's administration are concerned that such a declaration could be used to undermine the justification for the presence of U.S. forces in South Korea. But Moon said the armistice agreement would remain in force until a full peace treaty is signed at a later date, once denuclearization had been achieved.
"The peace treaty will be fulfilled as the final step of complete denuclearization. Until then, the current armistice stays in place," he said. "The need for U.S. forces in Korea is not affected at all."
Moon said he and Kim had talked a lot about denuclearization and the dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington, especially on the first day of their summit Tuesday.
"Chairman Kim reaffirmed his strong will for denuclearization again and again," Moon said. "He expressed his intention to complete the denuclearization process as soon as possible and shift his focus to economic development."
This article was written by Simon Denyer and Min Joo Kim, reporters for The Washington Post.