Vietnam's foreign minister arrived in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday ahead of a planned summit between DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam's capital later this month.
South Korea and the United States struck a new deal Sunday on how much Seoul should pay for the USA military presence on its soil, after previous rounds of failed negotiations caused worries about their decades-long alliance.
After last year's summit, Trump announced a halt to joint military exercises with South Korea, saying they were expensive and paid for mostly by the US. That follows an unprecedented June 11,2018 summit of the two leaders in Singapore.
"Today is day 440 since the last strategic provocation of the [North Koreans] ... either a missile flight test or nuclear weapons test", he said.
However, he said that action was reversible and added: "Much needs to be done to make meaningful progress".
Pyongyang has taken "the remarkable step" of ending nuclear weapons and long-range missile testing "at a time during which North Korea has been rapidly increasing the sophistication of its nuclear weapons and missiles and their destructive power and reach", researchers said.
The new deal must still be approved by South Korea's parliament, but it would boost its contribution to 1.03 trillion won (687.68 million pounds) from 960 billion won in 2018.
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Timothy Betts (L), acting deputy assistant secretary and senior adviser for security negotiations and agreements in the U.S. Department of State and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha during their meeting at Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, on February 10, 2019.
Late past year, the United States military warned Korean workers on its bases they might be put on leave from mid-April if no deal was agreed.
"With only two weeks until the summit, it will be hard to resolve all the tricky issues, but there's a chance if we can agree on a timeline (for denuclearization)", a South Korean delegation member quoted Biegun as saying.
Last year, South Korea provided about 960 billion won, roughly 40 per cent of the cost of the deployment of 28,500 United States soldiers whose presence is meant to deter aggression from North Korea. Late previous year, the USA military had warned the South Korean employees on its bases that they may be put on leave from mid-April if no agreement was reached.
The study by Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation estimated the size of Pyongyang's arsenal at 30 nuclear weapons, bringing the possible current total up to 37.
Trump has touted an optimistic view of North Korea - once proclaiming it was no longer a threat - since his first meeting with Kim.