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U.S. and South Korea to Discuss North’s ‘Bright Future’

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SEOUL, South Korea — When the South Korean president meets with President Trump in Washington next week, the two will discuss security assurances and economic incentives for a denuclearizing North Korea, following up on Mr. Trump’s reassuring words for the North’s young leader, a presidential aide in Seoul said on Friday.

At the White House meeting on Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea hopes to advise Mr. Trump on the summit meeting planned on June 12 with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in Singapore. Mr. Moon, who had a dramatic meeting with Mr. Kim on the inter-Korean border on April 27, helped arrange the Singapore meeting.

As those talks near, however, North Korea has become increasingly disagreeable, threatening to cancel the event over fears that it will not get the rewards it is seeking in exchange for dismantling the nuclear arsenal the impoverished country has taken decades to build.

“The two heads of states will focus their discussions on detailed plans to achieve the complete denuclearization of North Korea and permanent settlement of peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Nam Gwan-pyo, a senior presidential aide to Mr. Moon, said on Friday of the White House meeting. “We expect them to discuss ways to guarantee a bright future for the North in return for its complete denuclearization.”

Mr. Moon has helped bring about a rare reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula, playing mediator between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump. The South Korean leader has urged Mr. Kim to commit to denuclearization, arguing that he cannot improve the lives of his long-suffering people as long as North Korea retains its nuclear weapons, which have prompted harsh international sanctions. He has also urged Mr. Trump to promise security assurances and economic incentives for North Korea to convince it that it can be safe without a nuclear deterrent.

Mr. Moon’s approach faced challenges this week, however. North Korea suspended talks with the South, blaming joint military exercises the South held with the United States last week, which the North said was a rehearsal for invasion. And on Friday, North Korea declined to accept a list of eight South Korean reporters it had invited to watch the closing of its nuclear test site next week.

North Korea has also said that Mr. Kim will not be interested in meeting Mr. Trump if his hard-line aides, especially John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, insisted on North Korea accepting a quick and


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