Trump says 'no rush' to abolish North Korea’s nuclear weapons in shift from Singapore pledge-
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President Donald Trump has backtracked on his administration’s plans to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons within a year, announcing on Tuesday that there is now “no time limit” on the denuclearisation of Kim Jong-un’s regime. Speaking to reporters during a meeting with members of Congress at the White House on Tuesday, Mr Trump said, “We have no time limit. We have no speed limit. We’re just going through the process”. The president’s comments appear to mark a significant departure from demands he made of Mr Kim during their summit in Singapore in June, during which the North Korean leader agreed to work towards the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula in return for Washington guaranteeing the security of his regime. As recently as July 1, John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, had stated that the US was working to a one-year timetable for scrapping North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation shortly before Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, flew to Pyongyang for the most recent round of discussions on the issue, Mr Bolton said “I am sure that … Mike Pompeo will be discussing this with the North Koreans in the near future, about how to dismantle all of their [weapons of mass destruction] and ballistic missile programmes in a year. “If they have the strategic decision already made to do that and they are cooperative, we can move very quickly”, he said. “And it is to North Korea’s advantage to dismantle very quickly”. Mr Pompeo’s talks in Pyongyang do not appear to have significantly advanced the discussions on scrapping the North’s nuclear capabilities, with a foreign ministry official quoted in state-run media as describing the US attitude in the talks as “extremely troubling”. Washington was also accused of using “gangster-like” tactics to force Pyongyang to comply with its demands. No dates have been set for a new round of discussions and it appears that Mr Trump - who was fiercely critical of previous administrations for allowing North Korea to drag out discussions and buy time to develop their nuclear capabilities - accepts that his one-year timetable was overly optimistic. There is also likely to be a degree of disappointment in Washington after North Korea agreed to return the remains of only 55 American servicemen killed in the Korean War. Earlier reports had suggested that Pyongyang was willing and ready to return more than 200 sets of human remains and the US handed over more than 200 coffins at the Panmunjom Joint Security Area. The North Korean negotiators failed to turn up at talks on the repatriation of the remains scheduled to be held on July 12, insisting that a US general attend the discussions. Talks that took place on Monday ended with the North agreeing to hand over 50 sets of remains. More discussions are expected to take place on the return of other US troops.
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