North Korea Needs to Keep Promises Thanks to Slump, Moon Tells Newspaper

South Korea'a military is reconsidering defense options to guard against North Korea artillery

South Korea'a military is reconsidering defense options to guard against North Korea artillery

The two Koreas are solidifying their cooperation and beginning to increase connectivity amid reduced tensions on the peninsula.

These include, said Moon, Kim declaring in April a "new strategic line" favoring economic growth; his pledge to the global community of a "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" in inter-Korean summits and the first North Korea-U.S. summit in June; and the demolishing of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and Tongchang-ri missile engine test site.

Lim Eul-chul, an expert on the North Korean economy at South Korea's Kyungnam University, said the tight timeline for the groundbreaking ceremony reflects Pyongyang's determination to make rapid progress on talks over denuclearization.

Moon, who is meeting French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is honest and "really means" to abandon nuclear weapons.

Speaking before Monday's meeting, Cho said he and Ri would work to finalise the schedule for follow-on talks to last month's summit, including a joint study for the rail and road initiative.

At the talks, the South Korean delegation was led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung Gyon, with the North Korean delegation fronted by Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country.

The meeting comes amid U.S. concerns that the warming of ties between the neighbours may be outpacing negotiations to dismantle North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

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Moon has described inter-Korean engagement as crucial to resolving the nuclear standoff and is eager to restart joint economic projects held back by sanctions if the larger nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea begin yielding results.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed "discontent" over the inter-Korean military agreement, South Korea's foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha said last week.

"We expect all member states to fully implement U.N. sanctions, including sectoral goods banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions, and expect all nations to take their responsibilities seriously to help end (North Korea's) illegal nuclear and missile programs", she added.

He has also met South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Demilitarized Zone separating their countries, where he momentarily crossed into Pyongyang's southern neighbour.

The decision to exclude the reporter from the conservative Chosun Ilbo on Monday drew an angry reaction from other South Korean journalists.

Sanctions relief is quickly turning into a hot-button issue and North Korea has in recent weeks made its demands explicit.

"They discussed practical issues regarding demilitarisation steps to be conducted in the future", the South Korean ministry said in a statement. Talks are planned this month and next about increasing military engagement to reduce the threat of conventional warfare, about a joint bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics, and about stepping up contacts between families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War.

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