UPDATE : 2017.5.29 MON 17:16
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S. Korea, U.S. agree to seek new 'bold' ways to denuclearize N. Korea

South Korea and the United States agreed Tuesday to work toward the "complete" denuclearization of North Korea, also vowing to seek new and practical ways to rid the communist North of its nuclear weapons, Seoul officials said.

The agreement came at a meeting between South Korean officials and U.S. National Security Council (NSC) officials.

"The United States reaffirmed its strong commitment to the security and defense of South Korea," Yoon Young-chan, the top press secretary of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, told reporters.

The sides agreed to exert joint efforts for a "complete" disposal of North Korea's nuclear weapons, he added.

"First, they agreed that their ultimate goal was the complete disposal of North Korean nuclear weapons. Second, they agreed to mobilize all available means, including sanctions and dialogue," the South Korean official said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (second from R) shakes hands with Matt Pottinger, senior director for East Asia at U.S. National Security Council, in a brief meeting at his presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on May 16, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae)

Tuesday's meeting involved NSC's senior director for East Asia Matt Pottinger and NSC director Korea Allison Hooker. Chung Eui-yong, Seoul's former ambassador to Geneva, headed the South Korean side. Chung currently heads a special advisory group for President Moon Jae-in on security and diplomatic issues.

The sides said dialogue with the communist North was possible under the right conditions, Yoon said.

However, Pottinger, speaking to reporters later, said now may be not be the right time for dialogue.

"Right now, we certainly do not see the right conditions in light of the provocations," he said.

North Korea launched what is believed to be an intermediate-range missile on Sunday, prompting fresh condemnation from both Seoul and Washington, as well as the U.N. Security Council.

"We would want to see concrete movement to reduce the threat. Right now the threat is gathering," Pottinger said.

Apparently to finally put an end to the decades old dispute over North Korea's nuclear ambitions, the officials from Seoul and Washington also agreed to look for new "bold and practical" means to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, Yoon said.

Tuesday's meeting also sought to arrange schedules for a summit between Moon and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

Yoon said the sides have agreed to hold the summit in Washington in late June.

During a courtesy call by the U.S. delegation, the new South Korean president said his upcoming meeting with the U.S. president will show the strong alliance between their countries, according to Yoon.

"The summit will be a chance to once again display, not only to the people of our two countries but to the entire world, the strength of the Korea-U.S. alliance," Moon was quoted as telling the visiting U.S. officials.

"Also, I wish the countries will continue to work closely to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue," he added, according to Yoon. (Yonhap)

Lee Sung-won  edt@koreapost.com

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