'Relief for N Korea only after clear steps to denuclearisation'

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U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that he does not want to use the term "maximum pressure" on North Korea anymore because Washington and Pyongyang are now "getting along".

Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis and South Korea's Defence Minister Song Young-moo attend a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore June 3, 2018.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says worldwide sanctions on North Korea will only be lifted when Pyongyang takes concrete steps to dismantle its nuclear program.

At the meeting, however, Mattis made it clear that there will be no reward to Pyongyang without its verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

Trump said one thing that could come out of the summit is an agreement formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War, which was concluded only with a truce, not a peace treaty.

He said: "We can anticipate, at best, a bumpy road to the [negotiations]".

North Korea's nuclear weapons program has been a source of major security tensions that persisted despite a series of United Nations and USA sanctions and it has also demonstrated advances in ballistic missile technology that experts believe now threatens the US mainland.

Mattis made the comment on the sidelines of a security conference in Singapore on Sunday, stressing that it was vital for the global community to uphold the United Nations-imposed sanctions regime against North Korea until the country ended its nuclear activities.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in is to join that summit with the meeting likely to declare an end to the Korean War after nearly 70 years, the JoongAng Daily reported yesterday, citing a diplomatic source it did not identify.

Mattis has tended to stay away from commenting publicly on the upcoming summit, which Trump has confirmed will take place in Singapore on June 12, and instead deferred to the State Department.

Kim replaces def min Meanwhile, North Korea replaced its defence minister ahead of the pivotal negotiations, Japan's Asahi newspaper reported on Sunday.

"Both pressure and dialogue are important", he said, adding, "We believe that pressure will be maintained, which will help solve this problem".

"I know that President Trump has said he won't lift sanctions until North Korea agrees to denuclearization", Onodera said.

Onodera and Song held bilateral talks separately later Sunday.

"If we believe North Korea will trick us in the future as it did in the past, how can we negotiate with it and make peace?" the minister said at a plenary session of the forum.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican, said the objectives on North Korea had not changed, even if "there is a lot of work to be done" to achieve eventual denuclearization.

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