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Onus is now on North Korea, says Bishop


Given North Korea’s record going back on agreements, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the onus is on the rogue nation to prove this time they’re genuine.

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While she’s “cautiously optimistic” things might be different this time, there’s very little detail in the agreement signed between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un about how or if denuclearisation will occur.

North Korea is yet to show genuine steps in denuclearisation and has walked away from signed agreements in the past, she told reporters in Canberra today.

“The test now is this declaration that was signed with the US President in front of the world’s media that must stand, and the onus now is on North Korea to prove that it’s genuine,” she said.

That four-point agreement was scant on detail around verification of any steps by North Korea toward complete and irreversible denuclearisation.

It also did not mention points raised later by Trump around the abduction of Japanese citizens, human rights abuses or the withdrawal of US troops.

Bishop doesn’t believe their non-inclusion means Kim isn’t open to further discussions.

“It was one meeting and we should never have expected that everything would be resolved in one meeting,” she said, adding it could take months or years of further work.

Denuclearisation will be the first step toward peace on the peninsula and Australia and the International Atomic Energy Agency have both offered to fill that role.

“I’ve offered Australia’s services because we have expertise in that regard,” Bishop said.

“The strength of this agreement will only be as good as the verification process that North Korea allows.”

Trump and Kim also promised to work towards building “a lasting and stable peace” on the Korean peninsula, and to repatriate remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Korean War.

Bishop hopes 43 Australians listed as missing in action in North Korea could be repatriated.

Bishop’s opposition counterpart Penny Wong echoed concerns that North Korea might not follow through on its promise.

She said pressure should not be lifted without confirmation the regime is committed to genuine denuclearisation.

Tuesday’s summit was the first time a sitting US president had met face-to-face with a North Korean leader.

Trump said he had formed a “special bond” with Kim, and would “absolutely” invite him to Washington.

Kim, whose country is subject to a broad range of international sanctions over its illegal weapons program, said he and Trump had “decided to leave the past behind”.

“The world will see a major change,” the North Korean leader said.

Australia has imposed sanctions on North Korea – covering travel, goods and services, banking and scientific co-operation – since 2006 in response to the regime’s weapons programs.


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