Mattis: It'll be a 'bumpy road' to summit with North Korea

North Korea to get relief only after verifiable step to denuclearisation

No relief for Pyongyang until it gives up its nuclear weapons, Mattis says

"We can anticipate, at best, a bumpy road to the (negotiations)", Mattis said before the start of a meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of Shangri-la dialogue in Singapore.

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". Some have said denuclearization - which the US has also said must happen at one stage - is a pre-condition for the summit; others, like Mattis, have linked it not to the summit but to the prospect of sanctions relief and the normalization of ties with North Korea. The meeting is set to take place June 12 in Singapore.

He also said North Korea has "deceived" the worldwide community in the past, but Song, who attended the same session as Onodera, criticized the Japanese minister, saying progress will "not be made without negotiations".

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North Korea will get relief from global sanctions only when it has shown irreversible moves toward denuclearization, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis yesterday said ahead of a summit next week between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Also on Sunday, North Korean media reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad has expressed interest in traveling to North Korea to meet Kim Jong Un, adding another layer of possible intrigue to the planning for next week's summit between Trump and the North Korean leader.

It is not clear what either side is prepared to offer during the negotiations. Trump also insisted that he "never said it happens in one meeting".

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Instead, the significance of dialogue with North Korea was emphasized.

The South Korean military plans to refrain from publicising the upcoming joint war games with the United States, Seoul's Defence Ministry said on Monday (June 4).

Concerns have risen among the US' regional allies in recent days that Trump might consider cutting a deal with Kim that would see Pyongyang agreeing to give up its long-range missiles in return for sanctions relief, while being allowed to hold on to its short-range arsenal, leaving Japan and South Korea in the cross hairs.

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Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Saturday it was important not to reward North Korea for only agreeing to dialogue and it must take concrete action to dismantle all of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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