S Korean leader praises North's plan to dismantle nuke site

Donald Trump says North Korea is'very smart for planning to close nuclear site

North Korea will invite South Korean reporters from one news agency and from one television broadcaster to observe the dismantling of a nuclear test site between May 23 and May 25, South Korea's Ministry of Unification said on Tuesday.

On Saturday, North Korea announced that it will publicly dismantle the test site located in the country's northern region in a ceremony to which only journalists from South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Britain will be invited to cover.

North Korea said it will dismantle its Punggye-ri test site between May 23 and 25 in the presence of local and worldwide media.

North Korea has carried out all of its six nuclear tests to date at the Punggye-ri site, starting in 2006 and continuing until the most recent and powerful one in September a year ago.

In a historic move last month, however, Kim appeared to adopt a more diplomatic stance when he became the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea at a meeting with President Moon at the Joint Security Area of Panmunjom inside the heavily-fortified Demilitarized Zone on the Korean peninsula.

Chinese scientists claimed that the final test in 2017 caused serious damage to the mountain test site and created a serious risk of collapse, making it unsafe for further testing.

While South Korea's presidential office had said that Kim told South Korean President Moon Jae-in during their summit last month that worldwide experts will be invited to witness the closure, the North's Foreign Ministry statement on Saturday did not include any references to allowing experts at the site.

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, hoping to reach a deal in which North Korea agrees to give up its nuclear weapons.

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South Korea, meanwhile, said it will hold a high-level meeting with the North Wednesday to discuss measures focusing on reducing border tensions and resuming reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 war. "The White House underscored the importance of shutting down the test site and allowing thorough inspection and verification by nuclear specialists".

Not everyone shared the optimism over Pyongyang's nuclear pledge.

"This will be Americans coming in...to help build out the energy grid -- they need enormous amounts of electricity in North Korea; to work with them to develop infrastructure, all the things that the North Korean people need, the capacity for American agriculture to support North Korea so they can eat meat and have healthy lives", he said.

At a party meeting last month, Kim proclaimed that the development of the North's nuclear force was complete and promised no more nuclear or missile tests.

"It can never happen", said Thae, who now lives in South Korea and whose memoir hit the shelves Monday.

"North Korea's diplomacy has always been a repeat of hardline and appeasement", Thae added.

Trump struck an optimistic tone on North Korea as he personally welcomed home the freed American detainees early Thursday.

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