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South Korea to work with US and North Korea after failed nuclear talks
[SEOUL] South Korea will work with the United States and North Korea to ensure they reach agreement on denuclearisation, the South's president said on Friday, a day after talks between the US and North Korean leaders collapsed over sanctions.
A second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Vietnam, was cut short after they failed to reach a deal on the extent of sanctions relief North Korea would get in exchange for steps to give up its nuclear programme.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has been an active supporter of efforts to end confrontation on the Korean peninsula, meeting Mr Kim three times last year and trying to facilitate his nuclear negotiations with the United States.
"My administration will closely communicate and cooperate with the United States and North Korea so as to help their talks reach a complete settlement by any means," Mr Moon said in a speech in the South Korean capital, Seoul.
Mr Moon also said South Korea would consult the United States on ways to resume joint projects with the North including tourism development at Mount Kumgang and the Kaesong industrial complex, both in North Korea.
The Hanoi summit came eight months after Mr Trump and Mr Kim met for the first time in Singapore and agreed to establish new relations and peace in exchange for a North Korean commitment to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
Mr Trump said two days of talks had made good progress but it was important not to rush into a bad deal. He said he had walked away because of unacceptable North Korean demands.
"It was all about the sanctions,"Mr Trump told a news conference after the talks were cut short. "Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn't do that."
However, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told a midnight news conference after Mr Trump left Hanoi that North Korea had sought only a partial lifting of sanctions "related to people's livelihoods and unrelated to military sanctions".
He said North Korea had offered a realistic proposal involving the dismantling of all of its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, including plutonium and uranium facilities, by engineers from both countries.
"This is the biggest denuclearisation step we can take based on the current level of trust between the two countries," Mr Ri said.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told the briefing she had the impression that Kim "might lose his willingness to pursue a deal" after the US side rejected a partial lifting of sanctions in return for destruction of Yongbyon, "something we had never offered before".
Speaking to South Korean media later on Friday, Ms Choe appeared more pessimistic chances for progress.
"Having conducted the talks this time, it occurs to us that there may not be a need to continue," she said, adding that North Korea had taken "many steps" to try to reach a deal.
"We're doing a lot of thinking," she said while adding, the situation would change "if our demands can be resolved".
But despite raising that doubt, both sides have indicated they wanted to maintain the momentum and press on.
"We are anxious to get back to the table so we can continue that conversation that will ultimately lead to peace and stability, better life for the North Korean people, and a lower threat, a denuclearised North Korea," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference in Manila.