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North Korea drops withdrawal of US forces as condition of denuclearization, Moon says

North Korea has dropped its long-held demand that the United States withdraw forces from South Korea in exchange for ...

Posted: Apr 20, 2018 11:21 AM
Updated: Apr 20, 2018 11:21 AM

North Korea has dropped its long-held demand that the United States withdraw forces from South Korea in exchange for denuclearization, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday.

The United States has about 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea, a presence that has long irked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

However, in the burgeoning spirit of openness and diplomacy, Moon said Kim is willing to give up US troops' removal as a precondition for discussions over denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

"North Korea has expressed willingness to give up its nuclear program without making (a) demand that the (US Forces Korea) forces withdraw from the Korean Peninsula," Moon said in a meeting with the press, adding that any proposed troop withdrawal would be a "condition that the US cannot accept."

The South Korean leader, due to meet Kim next week for a historic summit in the Demilitarized Zone, the border separating the two countries, said the North was concerned about its security.

What US and North Korea mean when they talk about denuclearization

"They only talk about ending the hostile policy against North Korea, and then guarantee of their security. With that clarification, the US and North Korea have agreed to sit down at the summit," he said.

Officials from the two Koreas will conduct rehearsals for the inter-Korean summit ahead of the meeting, Kim Eui-kyeom, spokesman for South Korea's Blue House, said on Thursday.

According to Kim, South Korea will have two rehearsals, one on April 24 in the afternoon and one on April 26. North Korean officials will conduct one rehearsal ahead of the summit on the 27th.

Ahead of the talks, a hotline between the two capitals will be reconnected Friday.

"A test call between working-level officials will be made (Friday)," South Korean presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Thursday.

"One end of the phone line is the Blue House and the other end is North Korea's Cabinet Committee. It is not decided yet when the two heads of the state will make a call."

The concession comes as President Donald Trump insisted Wednesday he'd be willing to leave a highly anticipated summit meeting with Kim should it fall short of his expectations.

"If we don't think it's going to be successful, we won't have it," Trump said. "If the meeting when I'm there isn't fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting."

Sticking point on Trump-Kim talks: Location, location, location

Joint drills no longer an issue

In a similar vein, Kim signaled in March that he would not oppose joint US-South Korean military exercises, which had been postponed while South Korea hosted the Winter Olympics.

The annual war games have been a sore point for the North Korean leader, who sees them as a direct provocation to his country's security.

A South Korean delegation that traveled to Pyongyang reported back that Kim understands Seoul's position on holding military drills with the United States.

"Our stance on the joint military drills is that it is hard to postpone the exercises again or suspend them, and there is no justification for doing so. But Kim said that he understands the South's stance," a high-level official in South Korea's presidential office told CNN in March.

According to the official, Kim also said he expects the joint drills to be "readjusted" once the security situation on the Korean Peninsula stabilizes.

US military leaders have refused to put the drills on the table as a negotiating chip.

Rapid thaw in relations

Kim's diplomatic skills seem to have developed rapidly since Moon, a liberal who favors a more open policy toward the North, took office in May -- and particularly since the beginning of the year.

A conciliatory New Year's Day message from Kim swiftly saw the reconnection of a cross-border hotline, a development that led to the North's athletes and cultural ambassadors taking part in the South Korean-hosted Winter Games.

Since February, high-level talks between Seoul and Pyongyang have occurred, leading to an unlikely invitation from the North Korean leader to Trump for a face-to-face meeting and, indirectly, Kim's first foreign visit to neighbor and ally China.

Cultural exchanges have also warmed relations on either side of the 38th parallel, most recently with a performance by South Korean pop acts in the North Korean capital.

Following the groundbreaking concert, South Korean Culture Minister Do Jong-hwan told CNN that Kim seemed "sincere and genuine" about wanting to improve relations with Seoul.

The two Korean leaders prepare to meet next week in what is seen as paving the way for the US-North Korea summit.

This week it emerged that CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump's nominee for secretary of state, traveled to the North Korean capital for secret, preliminary talks ahead of the Trump-Kim meeting, which is set for late May or early June.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 331863

Reported Deaths: 7494
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22855279
Hinds22625437
Harrison19462326
Rankin14765286
Jackson14233251
Madison10658227
Lee10398178
Jones8713169
Forrest8164157
Lauderdale7528243
Lowndes6761150
Lamar665988
Lafayette6446124
Washington5497139
Bolivar4907134
Pearl River4889149
Oktibbeha476898
Panola4719112
Marshall4648106
Warren4612125
Pontotoc438873
Monroe4243137
Union424379
Neshoba4179180
Lincoln4088115
Hancock402788
Leflore3562125
Pike3511111
Tate348988
Alcorn343174
Sunflower342293
Adams331987
Yazoo330573
Scott330175
Simpson313690
Copiah311467
Itawamba309580
Coahoma308285
Tippah298368
Prentiss292563
Covington280183
Marion278980
Leake277975
Wayne269942
Grenada265688
George259851
Newton256064
Tishomingo235769
Winston235084
Jasper225748
Attala220373
Chickasaw215960
Stone209137
Holmes194974
Clay191554
Tallahatchie181542
Clarke181480
Calhoun177332
Smith175334
Yalobusha169240
Walthall140448
Lawrence137026
Greene134934
Amite131843
Noxubee131135
Perry130838
Montgomery130644
Carroll124531
Webster116732
Jefferson Davis112934
Tunica110827
Benton104425
Claiborne104231
Kemper100329
Humphreys99033
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw80919
Wilkinson73232
Jefferson69028
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 565510

Reported Deaths: 11468
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson828061584
Mobile44938853
Madison36534532
Tuscaloosa26589465
Shelby26409255
Montgomery25598623
Baldwin23319324
Lee16691179
Calhoun15030332
Morgan14877288
Etowah14563368
Marshall12723235
Houston11302292
Elmore10576217
St. Clair10449251
Limestone10420158
Cullman10198204
Lauderdale9883253
DeKalb9226191
Talladega8705187
Walker7545286
Autauga7388113
Jackson7216117
Blount7147139
Colbert6522142
Coffee5962131
Dale5224117
Russell463942
Chilton4603117
Covington4502125
Franklin439781
Tallapoosa4343156
Escambia414782
Chambers3813124
Dallas3674163
Clarke361562
Marion3354106
Pike323179
Lawrence3176101
Winston289672
Bibb276165
Geneva267383
Marengo257367
Barbour241860
Pickens238862
Butler233571
Hale230578
Fayette223863
Henry203345
Cherokee192347
Randolph192244
Monroe190241
Washington174539
Macon167252
Crenshaw163457
Clay161859
Cleburne158445
Lamar149138
Lowndes143854
Wilcox128431
Bullock125342
Conecuh117730
Coosa115229
Perry109628
Sumter107532
Greene95935
Choctaw63125
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