Foreign media arrive in North Korea to cover nuclear test site closure

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NORTH KOREA, MAY 22,
A small group of foreign journalists arrived in North Korea on Tuesday to cover the dismantling of the country’s nuclear test site later this week, but without eight South Korean media personnel, who were initially scheduled to participate.
Pyongyang is allowing a limited access to the site to publicise its promise to halt underground tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles. It unilaterally announced that moratorium ahead of a summit between leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
The South Korean journalists were excluded because Pyongyang has cut off high-level contact with Seoul to protest an exercise with the U.S. military. Amid growing concern over the success of the summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in was to meet with Mr. Trump in Washington later Tuesday.
The group that arrived by a chartered flight from Beijing is made up of media from the U.K., Russia, China and the United States. The journalists, including an Associated Press Television crew, will stay at a hotel in this port city on North Korea’s east coast before traveling by train to the site, which is in the northeastern part of the country.
The dismantling ceremo ny is expected to be held in the coming days, depending on the weather.
Only a welcome gesture?
The North’s decision to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site has generally been seen as a welcome gesture by Kim Jong-un to set a positive tone ahead of his summit with Mr. Trump.
But it is mainly just a gesture.
The North has already conducted six underground tests at the site including its most powerful ever, last September and Mr. Kim told ruling party leaders last month that further testing is unnecessary.

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