SEOUL, South Korea's presidential office on Sunday welcomed North Korea's announcement of its plan to dismantle the country's nuclear test site, saying the move will be helpful in building trust between the United States and the North ahead of their upcoming summit.
The North's foreign ministry announced Saturday night that it will dismantle its Punggye-ri nuclear test site between May 23 and 25, and will invite journalists from South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Britain to cover the dismantling on-site.
On Sunday, the South's presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom welcomed the announcement as an expression of the North's intention to carry out its agreement, reached during last month's inter-Korean summit, "not through words but through action."
The North's leader first promised to demolish the nuclear test site when he held historic summit talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27. The move would underscore the North's commitment to "completely" give up its nuclear program.
"Ahead of the U.S.-North Korea summit, we hope that trust between the leaders of the two countries will be strengthened (by the North's move)," the presidential spokesman said.
Kim also said that the North's invitation of foreign journalists shows the country will carry out the operation in a transparent manner.
"We hope that the sound of dynamite blowing up the Punggye-ri tunnels will be a gun salute in a journey toward a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons," he said.
Later in the day, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha expressed the view that Pyongyang's dismantlement plan was a display of its will to carry out the denuclearization procedures in a "transparent" manner.
Kang made the remarks upon her return from Washington D.C., where she had her first face-to-face talks with new U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"(While in the U.S.) I heard sufficiently about discussions between the North and the U.S. (over their upcoming summit), and I think there are many things left for the South and the U.S. to prepare as we move forward," she told reporters.
"My first talks (with Pompeo) were very good. ... I anticipate that coordination (between the allies) will fare well," she added.
Source: Yonhap News Agency