SINGAPORE (AFP) – North Korea will not get any sanctions relief until it has demonstrated “irreversible” steps to denuclearization, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said yesterday.
Speaking in a security conference in Singapore ahead of a planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mattis said it is vital that the international community keeps United Nations Security Council sanctions in place for now.
”North Korea will receive relief only when it demonstrates verifiable and irreversible steps to denuclearization,” Mattis said during public remarks in a meeting with the South Korean and Japanese defense ministers.
”In this moment, we are steadfastly committed to strengthening even further our defense cooperation as the best means to preserving the peace.”
South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo said that given recent developments in North Korea, “one can be cautiously optimistic as we go forward.”
Mattis has tended to stay away from commenting publicly on the upcoming summit, which Trump has confirmed will take place in Singapore on June 12, and instead deferred to the State Department.
The key task ahead of the summit is to settle the agenda. The main stumbling block is likely to be the concept of ”denuclearization” – both sides say they are in favor of it, but there is a yawning gap between their definitions.