22 Apr 2018

North Korea: 'It's the next steps that are important' says PM

7:19 am on 22 April 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has cautiously welcomed North Korea's move to halt all weapons testing - saying it lays the foundation for a conversation about further disarmament.

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Jacinda Ardern was in London when the North Korean leader made the announcement he would stop all missile tests. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch

The communist state's leader, Kim Jong-un, has pledged to stop all missile tests and shut down a nuclear test site, as a prelude to historic talks with South Korea and the United States.

Mr Kim said further missile tests were not needed.

Ms Ardern said the North Koreans wanted to demonstrate they had nuclear power and capacity, and in their minds, they had now done so.

The next steps, in particular dialogue with the US, were of equal importance to yesterday's surprise announcement, Ms Ardern said.

The Prime Minister is en route back to New Zealand after her first diplomatic mission to Europe.

A New Zealand based analyst said the decision to suspend all missile tests was a good step for diplomatic relations.

A retired professor of Asian studies, Tim Beal, said the move was a peaceful gesture, and was a good one to make before discussions with the United States, due to take place by June.

"They're after peaceful co-existence, so they want the Americans to drop what they call the 'hostility policy' in a sense leave them in peace ..." he said.

He said it signalled cooperation with South Korea as well.

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