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S Korea leader sees more obstacles ahead to disarm N Korea

AP  |  Seoul 

South Korea's said today that many "critical moments" still lie ahead to end the nuclear crisis despite North Korea's recent outreach to and

Moon Jae-in spoke before two senior officials left for the to brief officials about the outcome of their recent visit to


The officials said offered talks with the over normalising ties and denuclearization of the Seoul said the North also agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests during such future talks.

Some experts question how sincere is about its reported offers, citing what they call its track record of using past disarmament talks to wrest aid and concessions while covertly continuing its bomb programme.

According to the South Korean officials, North Korea said it has no reason to possess nuclear weapons as long as military threats against the country are removed and its security is guaranteed.

That's the same position North Korea has long maintained to justify its nuclear programme or call for the withdrawal of 28,500 US troops and a halt to annual US-South Korean military drills as a condition for scrapping its nuclear programme. The North sees the allies' drills as an invasion rehearsal.

Choi Hyunsoo, of Seoul's Defence Ministry, said the military will announce the schedule for the joint drills after the Pyeongchang Paralympics, which start Friday and run through March 18.

"We've overcome one critical moment. But there are many critical moments that we still have to go through before reaching the denuclearization of the and a permanent peace," Moon said in a meeting with church leaders.

Moon still described the outcome of his envoys' North Korea trip "a big step toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" that was possible with "a strong support" by the

It's unclear whether the would accept the North's reported offer for talks. expressed both hope and skepticism, calling the North's move "possible progress" that also "may be false hope."

Seoul and plan to kick off their delayed springtime drills next month, and how sensitively the North reacts will affect the reconciliation mood revived by the North's participation in last month's held in the South.

The North responded to past joint drills by the allies with its own weapons tests and fiery rhetoric.

Japanese said Japan's policy of pressuring North Korea does not change just because its leadership is now open to dialogue.

"We should not ease our stance, for instance relax sanctions, just because North Korea agreed to have a dialogue," Abe told a parliamentary session. "We should not give North Korea a reward in exchange for a dialogue."

China, the North's most important ally, encouraged follow-up measures while noting the progress was in part due to the suspension of both North Korean nuclear tests and US-South Korean military exercises during

"This proves that China's proposal of suspension for suspension was the right prescription for the problem and created basic conditions for the improvement of inter-Korean relations," told reporters in Wang said Pyongyang's security concerns should be addressed in return for denuclearization.

Moon and North Korean leader Un are to meet at a border village in late April, when the South Korea-US drills would likely be still under way. If realized, the Moon-Kim meeting would mark the rivals' third-ever summit talks since their 1945 division, according to Moon's office.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 08 2018. 12:35 IST
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