SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told his South Korean counterpart at their historic summit that he would be willing to give up his nuclear weapons if the U.S. commits to a formal end to the Korean War and a pledge not to attack the North, Seoul officials said Sunday.
Kim also vowed during his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday to shut down the North's nuclear test site in May and disclose the process to experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States, Seoul's presidential office said.
While there are lingering questions about whether North Korea will ever decide to fully relinquish its nukes as it heads into negotiations with the U.S., Kim's comments amount to the North's most specific acknowledgement yet that "denuclearization" would constitute surrendering its weapons.
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton reacted coolly to word that Kim would abandon his weapons if the United States pledged not to invade.
Asked on CBS' "Face the Nation" whether the U.S. would make such a promise, Bolton said: "Well, we've heard this before. This is — the North Korean propaganda playbook is an infinitely rich resource."
"What we want to see from them is evidence that it's real and not just rhetoric," he added.
Seoul officials, who have shuttled between Pyongyang and Washington to broker talks between Kim and President Donald Trump that are expected in May or June, said Kim has expressed genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons.
But there has been skepticism because North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of "denuclearization" that bears no resemblance to the American definition. The North has long vowed to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its 28,500 troops from South Korea and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.
During their summit at a truce village on the border, Moon and Kim promised to work toward the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula but made no references to verification or timetables.