Now, let me begin the National Security Council meeting.
The second North Korea-United States summit, though its outcome was very regrettable, was an opportunity to confirm crucial achievements made thus far through dialogue between the two sides.
First, the complete dismantlement of the Yeongbyeon nuclear complex was discussed. The possibility has come into view that the Yeongbyeon nuclear site, the mainstay of North Korea’s nuclear facilities, could be permanently dismantled under the observation and verification of the United States. Should the Yeongbyeon nuclear complex, including plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities, be demolished entirely, the process of denuclearizing North Korea can be evaluated as having entered an irreversible stage.
Second, the partial removal of economic sanctions was discussed. It shows that denuclearization talks between North Korea and the United States have come into the stage of comprehensive, two-way consultations to discuss both North Korea’s practical denuclearization steps and corresponding measures by the United States based on the spirit of the Singapore agreement. This can also be seen as great progress in the talks.
Third, the issue of establishing a U.S. liaison office in North Korea was discussed. The establishment of the office carries added significance as a crucial step in the process of normalizing relations between the two sides, along with its practical aspect that it can provide a work space for U.S. experts and other members of a verification team while getting rid of the nuclear facilities in Yeongbyeon and other places or nuclear weapons and materials.
Another unique aspect, which makes this time different from the past, is that the two sides neither blamed each other nor escalated tensions although a deal wasn’t reached. The two leaders expressed unwavering trust in each other and made clear their will to reach a settlement by resuming talks and continuing dialogue.
In particular, President Trump personally explained at the press conference after the summit why they could not come to an agreement while also expressing his unwavering trust in Chairman Kim Jong Un and his commitment to continuing the talks. He also presented optimistic views regarding future talks and made it clear that he had no intention of pressuring North Korea by strengthening sanctions or military exercises. I have high regard for President Trump in this consideration. Taken together, these have allowed us to form expectations that – even though it might take some more time – the recent summit could be part of a process that leads to a greater agreement.
We hope that the two sides will continue their dialogue and that the two leaders will achieve the settlement that was put off this time by meeting again at the earliest date possible. Our role has also once more become significant in the process. I urge each ministry and agency to endeavor in the following three directions:
First, I ask you to precisely identify the differences in positions that made both sides unable to reach an agreement at this North Korea-U.S. summit and to seek ways to narrow the differences in their positions. I believe that dialogue between the two sides will eventually lead to a settlement, but since a prolonged hiatus or impasse in dialogue is never desirable, I also ask you to make concerted efforts to help them resume working-level talks as soon as possible.
Second, I ask you to find as many ways as possible to assist North Korea-U.S. dialogues through developments in inter-Korean relations within the boundaries of international sanctions. In particular, I urge you to push ahead, in a speedy manner, with inter-Korean cooperation projects agreed to in the Panmunjeom Declaration and the Pyeongyang Joint Declaration.
Third, I ask you to establish a clear concept of a new Korean Peninsula regime proposed in the March First Independence Movement Day address and to work out feasible short-term to mid-to-long-term visions.