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G7 diplomats call on North Korea to denuclearize, return to diplomacy

Top diplomats from the Group of Seven countries called on North Korea to denuclearize and end its ballistic missile programs in a joint communique issued on Wednesday. File photo by KCNA/UPI
Top diplomats from the Group of Seven countries called on North Korea to denuclearize and end its ballistic missile programs in a joint communique issued on Wednesday. File photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, May 6 (UPI) -- Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven countries urged North Korea to completely denuclearize and return to negotiations following a meeting of the top diplomats held in London.

"We call on the DPRK to refrain from provocative actions and to engage in a diplomatic process with the explicit goal of denuclearization," the diplomats said in a joint statement released Wednesday. "We remain committed to the goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of all of the DPRK's unlawful Weapons of Mass Destruction and ballistic missile programs in accordance with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions."

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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

The statement also called on North Korea to rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which it withdrew from in 2003.

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The G7 diplomats said they supported efforts by the United States to lead the way in working toward North Korean denuclearization.

"We welcome the readiness of the United States to continue its efforts in that regard and we remain committed to providing support," the statement said.

Earlier in the week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on North Korea to come back to the negotiation table, saying the United States has "a very clear policy that centers on diplomacy and it is up to North Korea to decide whether it wants to engage or not on that basis."

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Nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang have been at a standstill for more than two years, after a February 2019 summit between then-U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended without an agreement.

North Korea had been seeking concessions such as the easing of international sanctions in exchange for taking steps toward dismantling its nuclear arsenal, while the United States held firm on complete denuclearization first.

Washington announced last week that it had concluded its North Korea policy review, which Blinken said takes "a practical, calibrated approach" that includes close coordination with allies Japan and South Korea.

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Blinken met for trilateral talks with his counterparts Chung Eui-Yong of South Korea and Toshimitsu Motegi of Japan on Wednesday, with North Korea a focus of their discussion. South Korea was a guest country at the G7 meeting, along with Australia, India and South Africa.

The three diplomats "reaffirmed their commitment to concerted trilateral cooperation toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, as well as other issues of mutual interest," said U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price in a statement.

"They also agreed on the imperative of fully implementing relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions by U.N. member states, including North Korea, preventing proliferation and cooperating to strengthen deterrence and maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," he said.

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the diplomats agreed to "further strengthen cooperation to make substantial progress in achieving complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula."

The G7 ministers also said they were "deeply preoccupied" with human rights abuses in North Korea and called for the country to allow access by a United Nations special rapporteur.

"We remain gravely concerned about the documented accounts of human rights violations and abuses in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including in the regime's extensive network of political prison camps," the joint communique read.

The ministers said that "the precarious humanitarian situation" in North Korea was caused by the ruling Kim Jong Un regime's "choice to prioritize its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs over the welfare of its own people."

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