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S Korean President hails shutting down of nuclear site in N Korea

Seoul [South Korea], May 14 : South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday welcomed the planned shutting down of Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea, calling it as an "initial step of achieving denuclearisation".

In a statement, Moon was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying, "I highly evaluate and welcome North Korea's decision to transparently open the shutdown of its Punggye-ri nuclear test site to the international community following its release of American captives."

Further explaining the move, he added, "First, it will have a special meaning as it will be an initial step in the complete denuclearization of North Korea. Second, it could be viewed positively in that North Korea is showing a great commitment to the success of the North-U.S. summit. Third, I wish to highly evaluate the move in that North Korea is sincerely taking steps to implement each and every promise Chairman Kim made to me at the South-North Korea summit."

On Saturday, North Korea announced that it will commence dismantling its nuclear test site later this month in a bid to uphold its previous pledge to discontinue nuclear tests. A ceremony for the dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site reportedly has been scheduled between May 23-25.

Pyongyang also confirmed that international journalists, including the ones from the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK), would be invited to carry out "on-the-spot coverage in order to show in a transparent manner" how the use of the nuclear site is being discontinued.

According to several media reports, South Korean officials in April said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had stated that he "would carry out the closing of the nuclear test site in May."

On April 20, the North Korean leader said that his nation already had "completed its mission" to test its weapons capability and added that it had no further need for the site.

The announcement came after US President Donald Trump announced that he will hold a meet with Kim in Singapore on June 12.

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