Senior U.S. diplomat says Four Nos still valid

Apr 25, 2018, 10:13 am

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Lee Do-hoon (2nd left), South Korea's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, and Susan Thornton (3rd), Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, hold talks in Seoul on April 24./ Photographed by Jung Jae-hoon

By AsiaToday reporters Joo Sung-sik & Heo Go-woon

A senior United States diplomat reaffirmed Tuesday the principle of "Four Nos" in dealing with North Korea, raising expectations for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula - the core agenda of the upcoming inter-Korean and North-U.S. summits. The four no's refer to the U.S.' commitment not to attack North Korea, not to seek regime change, regime collapse, and accelerated reunification.

A high-ranking official at Seoul's unification ministry also said that it would be unrealistic to discuss ways to establish peace without the progress of the North's denuclearization, indicating that there is a significant progress in the denuclearization.

"The four nos principle is still definitely our position," Susan Thornton, Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told reporters Tuesday after a meeting in Seoul with Lee Do-hoon, Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs.

The four nos principle is what by then- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared in August last year. He was ousted in the Trump administration last month. However, the fact that a key U.S. diplomat reaffirmed just a few days ahead of the upcoming inter-Korean and North-U.S. talks that the principle remains valid is considered to be green light for North Korea's denuclearization.

However, Thornton refused to answer in detail when asked whether the U.S. government will set a deadline for the North's denuclearization. "It's early to talk about it at the moment," she said. "We have a lot of work to do, and we have to see what happens between the two Koreas on Friday."

Thornton emphasized that the U.S. and the international community is in close coordination with South Korea in dealing with North Korea, saying, "I do want to show to your government, our government and the world that we are very closely coordinating and consulting as we always do. We will be keeping in close touch and watching carefully."

Amid thawing relations among the neighboring countries on the Korean Peninsula, South Korean officials including presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok, who heads a summit preparation committee, and Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon visited Panmunjom on Tuesday. They stayed there for nearly two hours to check the summit schedule and inspect the course the two leaders are expected to walk.

After checking the briefing room and pressroom at the Freedom House, Im instructed staff to do their best to prepare for a live global broadcast of all the leaders' movements, from the first meeting of the two leaders to a welcome ceremony.

The inter-Korean summit preparation committee plans to hold a joint rehearsal with the North on Wednesday, and conduct a final check on its own on Thursday.

Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in exchanged opinions with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the phone for 40 minutes on Tuesday on the recent changes in the situation on the Korean Peninsula. The South Korean leader said that a successful inter-Korean summit will greatly boost the chances of a successful U.S.-North Korea summit and help to normalize the Japan-North Korea relationship as well.

#Susan Thornton #Lee Do-hoon #inter-Korean summit #Four Nos #North Korea 
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