Published: Wed, May 23, 2018
Industry | By Terrell Bush

Korea accepts list of S. Korean journalists to cover nuclear site dismantlement

Korea accepts list of S. Korean journalists to cover nuclear site dismantlement

Trump said at the meeting with Moon that his scheduled meeting with top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore "may not work out for June 12", raising a possibility for the delayed first-ever summit between the DPRK and the United States.

"I'm very hopeful that that meeting will take place".

Reporters from China, Britain, the United States and Russian Federation on Tuesday flew from Beijing to the North Korean city of Wonsan, from where they will travel for some 20 hours up the east coast by train and bus to the remote test site.

Last week Pyongyang threatened to pull out if Washington pressed for its unilateral nuclear disarmament.

South Korea welcomed the latest, albeit belated, development, expressing hope that it could lead to the swift and complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

In an about-face, the North accepted the list of the South Korean journalists earlier in the day.

Rumors of a simmering military revolt in North Korea are precisely the kind of thing that emboldened Kim to keep a tight grip on power over the years, according to some experts.

And the North threatened to abandon the planned Trump-Kim meeting over U.S. insistence on denuclearising the peninsula.

The date for the event has yet to be fixed, but it is expected to happen between Wednesday and Friday depending on local weather conditions.

"Everything is on thin ice", Koo Kab-woo, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP.

"We are prepared", said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying Trump had asked them to follow through with preparations.

Observers will be watching the nuclear test site destruction ceremony closely for any clues to the North's mood.

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As Pyongyang permitted the South Korean media to cover the nuclear test site dismantling, expectations ran high for the suspended inter-Korean talks to be resumed.

The invitation to witness the dismantling of the Punggye-ri site was seen as an indication that North Korea's unexpected offer to end its nuclear tests still held despite renewed diplomatic uncertainty.

It had also declined to take the South Korean reporters after calling off planned inter-Korean talks in protest against U.S.

"If the North-South relations face a grave difficulty again owing to the provocation of human scum, the blame for it will be entirely on the South Korean authorities", the report said. "The North Korean military, the General Staff Department, the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces, as well as the entire North Korean people, they are all potential enemies".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang answers questions about a major bus accident in North Korea, during a news conference in Beijing, China April 23, 2018.

The ministry said it planned to arrange a rare direct flight on Wednesday between the two countries, who remain technically at war, to ferry the journalists to Wonsan.

North Korea is also said to be making efforts to fix and test the safety of a 270-kilometer stretch of railway between Wonsan and Kilju in North Hamgyong Province, where the Punggye-ri site is located.

On Seoul's streets Wednesday, South Koreans were divided on whether they thought Pyongyang was honest.

"You never know about deals", he said. If North Korea's denuclearization is to be accomplished, Kim Jong Un will need to be granted assurances that he and his regime will be safe even without a nuclear arsenal and ICBM capability.

Politically, Trump has invested heavily in the success of the meeting, so most United States officials, as well as outside observers, privately expect it will go ahead.

"I don't like that", Mr Trump said.

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