N Korea's record doesn't instil confidence

Karen Sweeney
Australia is looking at the role it can play following the historic US-North Korean summit

North Korea's past record doesn't instil Foreign Minister Julie Bishop with confidence that the rogue nation will follow through with steps to dismantle its nuclear weapons.

While she's "cautiously optimistic" things might be different this time there's very little detail in the agreement signed between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un about how or if it will occur.

"We have certainly seen North Korea make commitments that they have broken, they have even signed agreements that they've walked away from," Ms Bishop told the Nine Network.

"His past record doesn't fill one with a great deal of confidence."

The test this time will be verification of denuclearisation and there's no detail around how North Korea will commit to that.

"That would be a very big step and none of that is contained in the declaration, so we will have to focus on that detail," Ms Bishop said.

"But first I think NK needs to show that it's genuine, it needs to take concrete and verifiable steps to show that it is denuclearising," she said.

Mr Trump and Mr Kim also promised to work towards building "a lasting and stable peace" on the Korean peninsula, and to repatriate remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Korean War.

Ms Bishop hopes 43 Australians listed as missing in action in North Korea could be repatriated.

Ms Bishop's opposition counterpart Penny Wong has echoed concerns that North Korea might not follow through on its promise.

"The international community must not take the pressure off without confirmation the regime actually committed and is following through with genuine denuclearisation," Senator Wong said in a statement.

"Now would not be the time to ease international sanctions against North Korea."

The US president said he would end "provocative" annual joint military exercises with Seoul, and spoke of his hope to one day withdraw the 32,000 American soldiers stationed in South Korea.

Tuesday's summit was the first time a sitting US president had met face-to-face with a North Korean leader.

Mr Trump said he had formed a "special bond" with Mr Kim, and would "absolutely" invite him to Washington.

Mr Kim, whose country is subject to a broad range of international sanctions over its illegal weapons program, said he and Mr Trump had "decided to leave the past behind".

"The world will see a major change," the North Korean leader said.

Australia has imposed sanctions on North Korea - covering travel, goods and services, banking and scientific co-operation - since 2006 in response to the regime's weapons programs.