SEOUL – United States Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan urged North Korea on Monday to maintain a productive dialog on nuclear disarmament and emphasized that the only acceptable manner of denuclearization was one which was “complete, verifiable.”
Shanahan used these words during a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Jeong Kyeong-doo in Seou, the official South Korean news agency, Yonhap, reported.
“We’re hopeful that the North Koreans will engage productively through diplomatic channels to resolve our concerns,” Shanahan said during the meeting which was open to the media.
He reiterated that, “we stand united, firmly committed to the enforcement of all United Nations sanctions against North Korea until they comply with the international obligations.”
Shanahan said that Washington has no intention of softening its stance, adding that, “the only acceptable end-state is complete, verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula.”
The Hanoi summit in February between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without agreement after Washington, which wants North Korea’s immediate nuclear disarmament, rejected Pyongyang’s proposal of a gradual denuclearization process in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
Following the fresh deadlock in the dialog, Pyongyang has toughened its rhetoric and has also launched short-range missiles twice in an attempt to pressurize Seoul and Washington.
Both have opted to respond with restraint in order to keep the dialog open.
Shanahan had a brief meeting later on Monday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during which both said that negotiation was the only way to achieve peace, according to a statement by the South Korean president’s office.
The US secretary of defense is set to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Japanese counterpart Takeshi Iwaya on Tuesday in Japan.