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US to help N. Korea economically if it gets rid of nuclear weapons


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Washington, May 12 (IANS) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced here on Friday that the US government "would be willing" to offer economic aid to North Korea it is gets rid of its nuclear weapons and takes concrete steps toward a "complete" and "verifiable" denuclearization.

"If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize, the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends," Pompeo said at the State Department during a joint press conference with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha, Efe reported.

Until an agreement is reached, Washington plans on maintaining pressure through sanctions, which have made it harder for North Korea to trade with China, its main ally.

Kang said South Korea wanted the sanctions to stay in place until Pyongyang takes "visible, meaningful action" to get rid of its nuclear weapons.

"We’re not talking about sanctions relief at this point," she said.

Pompeo’s offer to provide economic aid comes as the US and North Korea are preparing for a historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump, which will take place in Singapore on June 12.

Both Kang and Pompeo stressed that their goal is to achieve a "complete" and "verifiable" denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Journalists asked Pompeo what such a denuclearization would look like and if it meant carrying out inspections in North Korean nuclear plants.

"I think there is complete agreement about what the ultimate objectives are," Pompeo said, providing no further details.

Pompeo returned on Thursday from Pyongyang, where he met with Kim and helped secure the release of three American prisoners being held in North Korea.

Pompeo was the head of the CIA for 15 months prior to being sworn in as Secretary of State on April 26.

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