By Seima Oki and Kensaku Fujiwara / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WritersSEOUL — Foreign Minister Taro Kono, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha confirmed on Thursday their close trilateral coordination, with the aim of steadily realizing North Korea’s “complete denuclearization” as reaffirmed by Pyongyang in the joint statement issued after the talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
In their talks at the South Korean Foreign Ministry in Seoul, the three top diplomats also exchanged views on a road map for Pyongyang’s denuclearization. Pompeo visited Seoul to provide briefings about the U.S.-North Korea summit, which was held on Tuesday.
Pompeo — who participated in the Trump-Kim talks — is believed to have briefed his counterparts on the road map. The secretary of state is also presumed to have asked Tokyo and Seoul to provide economic cooperation for Pyongyang as it proceeds with denuclearization.
“The trilateral cooperation among the United States, South Korea and Japan has been crucial to the effectiveness regarding our efforts related to denuclearization of North Korea,” Pompeo said at a joint press conference following Thursday’s meeting. “The world should rest assured that the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan remain committed to achieving the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.”
Pompeo also said, “We believe that Chairman [of the Workers’ Party of Korea] Kim Jong Un understands the urgency of the timing of completing this denuclearization.”
“Complete denuclearization certainly encompasses” the verification of nuclear sites and programs in North Korea, he added.
Kono said at the press conference that all Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction need to be addressed, calling for “North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges.”
Kono also said the U.S.-North Korea summit represented “only the beginning of a challenging yet significant process to achieve our common goal: peace and security in the region and beyond.”
In Japan and South Korea, there is growing bewilderment over the fact that Trump expressed his intention to consider suspending U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises while North Korea proceeds with the denuclearization process.
Regarding the joint exercises, Kang only said at the press conference, “This is an issue that involves the [South] Korea-U.S. alliance.” The issue will be decided in “consultations between the military authorities of the two countries, [South] Korea and the United States,” she added.
Kono said, “We understand that any pause in [U.S.-South Korea] exercises is contingent upon [North Korea’s] action toward denuclearization.”
Kono and Pompeo also held bilateral talks at a hotel in Seoul around noon. Pompeo is believed to have provided briefings on specific communications at the U.S.-North Korea summit regarding the issue of Pyongyang’s abduction of Japanese citizens.
“President Trump indeed raised this [abduction] issue, raised it on more than one occasion,” the secretary of state said at the joint press conference. Trump “could not have been more clear about his expectations with respect to North Korea’s obligations for the return of the abductees,” he added.
At the bilateral talks, Kono is presumed to have conveyed Tokyo’s stance of dealing with the issue by directly negotiating with North Korea, with an eye to holding a Japan-North Korea summit sometime in August or September.Speech