North Korea suspends nuclear and missile tests

Leader Kim Jong-un also announces the shutting down of nuclear test site, before next week's inter-Korean talks.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has announced that his country will suspend nuclear and missile tests immediately, according to state media.

    The announcement on Saturday came amid increasingly decreasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula in advance of a landmark summit between North and South Korea next week.

    The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that Pyongyang would also close its nuclear test site as part of the country's efforts to pursue economic growth and regional peace.

    "Nuclear development has proceeded scientifically and in due order and the development of the delivery strike means also proceeded scientifically and verified the completion of nuclear weapons," the agency quoted Kim as saying during a meeting of the ruling party's full Central Committee.

    "We no longer need any nuclear test or test launches of intermediate and intercontinental range ballistic missiles, and because of this the northern nuclear test site has finished its mission."

    According to the KCNA statement, North Korea also pledged to join international efforts to stop all nuclear tests and vowed to never use nuclear weapons as long as there are no such threats towards the country.

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    "The North appears to be signalling now, through its state news agency, that it is shifting its focus from the nuclear weapons development to more of an economic policy," Al Jazeera's Kathy Novak, reporting from South Korea's capital, Seoul, said.

    Last year, after conducting its most powerful nuclear test ever and saying it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, North Korea announced that its nuclear programme was complete, added Novak.

    Landmark meeting

    Kim is to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a border village on April 27 and US President Donald Trump in the subsequent months in separate summit talks.

    Next week's inter-Korean summit will the first such meeting since 2007 and only the third since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

    Meanwhile, Kim's expected meeting with Trump will come after months of a diplomatic standoff that saw the two leaders exchange fiery military threats and personal insults.

    A date for the meeting has not yet been set, with the White House still weighing five potential locations, according to comments made by Trump to reporters on Tuesday.

    Later on Saturday, Trump welcomed Kim's move.

    "North Korea has agreed to suspend all nuclear tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the world - big progress!" he wrote on Twitter.

    "Look forward to our summit," he added.

    Trump had previously said the summit would take place "sometime in May or early June".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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