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US urged to respond positively to N.Korea’s dismantlement

(Global Times)    08:11, May 24, 2018

N.Korea grants last minute permission to S.Korean reporters

North Korea has demonstrated its resolve to denuclearize by inviting foreign journalists to witness the dismantling of its Punggye-ri nuclear test site this week, said Chinese experts, who urge the US to respond positively to the move.

The date for the decommissioning of the facility has yet to be announced, but it is expected to happen Thursday or Friday if local weather conditions improve, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Journalists from China, Russia, the UK and the US departed Beijing for North Korea's eastern city of Wonsan on Tuesday. South Korean journalists, who were initially excluded from the media group, flew from Seongnam in south Seoul to Wonsan on Wednesday, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

North Korea accepted the list of South Korean journalists chosen to cover the event at the last minute.

The media group covering the event left by train on Wednesday to Kilju county before traveling 3 to 4 hours by bus and then an hour's hike to reach the Punggye-ri test site.

The train was expected to take 8 to 12 hours, AP reported.

"North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests at the Punggye-ri test site. By inviting the media group to witness its demolition, the North is showing the international community its resolve to denuclearize and shift priorities to economic development," Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times, adding that the North's sincerity should not be questioned.

North Korea's state media KCNA said dismantling the Punggye-ri nuclear test ground will involve collapsing all of the facility's tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances, and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts.

Threat to delay the summit

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has cast doubt on whether his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-unwill be held as planned on June 12 in Singapore.

Seated in the Oval Office with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump told reporters on Tuesday that "there's a very substantial chance" the meeting won't happen as scheduled. However, Moon expressed "every confidence" in Trump's ability to hold the summit and bring about peace, CNN reported.

"North Korea and the US do have profound differences over how denuclearization should happen and Trump's threat to delay the summit is only aimed at gaining leverage," Lü said, adding that Trump would lose a lot of support and prestige if he abandons the planned talks with Kim.

If Trump keeps pressuring North Korea to give up its core interests, North Korea may back out of the summit fearing that endless compromises may impact the government's prestige among the North Korean people, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University's Institute of International Relations, told the Global Times.

If the Kim-Trump summit doesn't take place or fails to reach a substantive agreement, the conflict between the US and North Korea could sharpen, giving rise to the possibility of military clashes, Li said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a daily briefing on Wednesday that China hopes every concerned party will grasp the historic opportunity to solve the Korean Peninsula issue, work together and deal with each other's concerns in a balanced manner.

Li also noted that China, which has never been marginalized on the Korean Peninsula issue, has also made efforts to facilitate the summit in a move to ease regional tensions and it is groundless to suggest China has any other motive than enhancing world peace.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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