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North Korea Discontinues Nuclear Tests

North Korea says it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the suspension of nuclear and ICBM tests went into effect Saturday.

The North also vowed to actively engage with regional neighbours and the international community to secure peace on the Korean Peninsula and create an “optimal international environment” to build its economy.

The announcements came days before North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is set to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a border truce village for a rare summit aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang.

North and South Korea installed the first telephone hotline between their leaders Friday as they prepare for the summit.koreas-summit-leaders-hotline

Moon’s office welcomed the announcement as “meaningful progress” toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Presidential official Yoon Young-chan said in a statement Saturday local time the announcement will brighten the prospects for successful talks between Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington.

A meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump is anticipated in May or June.

Trump responded to Friday’s announcement on Twitter, calling it “very good news for North Korea and the world.”

However, KCNA also quoted Kim saying that his country no longer needs to conduct nuclear tests or intercontinental ballistic missile tests because it has completed weaponizing nuclear arms.

On Thursday, Moon said the North had expressed a commitment to “complete denuclearization.”

Trump has said he will meet with Kim in May or June, but on Wednesday warned he will call off the summit if he doesn’t believe it will produce results.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations welcomed Saturday North Korea’s announcement, and praised the way the UN Security Council “really came together” in order to achieve that.

Speaking at an informal working meeting of the Security Council ambassadors in southern Sweden on Saturday, Nikki Haley said pressure and sanctions coming from the UN enabled the isolation of North Korea “until they had a good behaviour, and now we are seeing they want to come to the table.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told reporters in Sweden that he was optimistic about North Korea’s decision, saying that “the path is open for the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

In an earlier statement released by his office, Guterres wished the two Koreas ahead of their April 27 summit “every success in their courageous and important task of resuming sincere dialogue leading to sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula.” He also praised the establishment of a direct telephone link between the leaders of North and South Korea.

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