'Hopes of rapid progress towards the denuclearisation of North Korea cooled on Thursday after the US pushed back against Kim Jong-un's promise to dismantle a nuclear test site if Washington first made concessions.
Donald Trump and his secretary of state had both offered words of encouragement after Kim signed a joint statement with Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, during three days of talks in Pyongyang this week.
But that was followed by a more sober State Department briefing insisting nothing had changed in the US position and there could be no rewards for Mr Kim’s regime until it completed the denuclearisation process.
Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, said, “Nothing can happen in the absence of denuclearisation. Denuclearisation has to come first.”
Analysts have long pointed out that promises made by Kim offer little new, particularly on the issue of its nuclear weapons capability.
That was not enough to prevent an initial positive reaction from US officials.
Mr Trump described the joint declaration as “tremendous progress”.
“Kim Jong-un has agreed to allow nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts”, Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “In the meantime there will be no rocket or ruclear testing”.
Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, was equally bullish about the developments, saying he had invited Ri Yong-ho, the North Korean foreign minister, to a meeting during the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.'
Read more: After warm words, US tells Kim Jong-un that concessions will only come after denuclearisation
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