US waits N Korea response to restart denuke talks: US envoy

22-Aug-2019 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Washington is waiting for a response from Pyongyang to resume working-level discussions on denuclearisation as the United States is ready to engage with Pyongyang, a senior US government official said, Wednesday.

“Regarding the restarting of the negotiation, we’re prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our counterparts in North Korea,” US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said in a short press briefing after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We discussed a number of issues of mutual interest to our government and continued our close cooperation on matters related to North Korea. I appreciate this strong and continued cooperation between the United States, South Korea and Japan,” he added.

Biegun dispelled speculations that he would replace outgoing US Ambassador to Moscow Jon Huntsman as US President Donald Trump has assigned him to restart working-level negotiations.

“I wanted to dispel any rumours that I’ll be leaving this portfolio to take up an ambassadorship abroad. I will not be taking up a diplomatic posting in the Russian Federation and I will remain focused on making progress on North Korea. President Trump gave me and my team the assignment to restart working-level negotiations with North Korea. I’m fully committed to this important mission and we will get this done,” he said leaving the ministry headquarters without taking any questions from the media.

Biegun plans to visit Cheong Wa Dae today for talks on various issues of mutual interest with deputy National Security Office chief Kim Hyun-chong, according to sources.

The Biegun-Lee meeting came a few hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed displeasure, Wednesday morning (KST), with the North’s recent missile tests, asking the North Korean leader to come to the table. “It will be better for the North Korean people and it will be better for the world,” Pompeo said.

In a historic encounter between Trump and Kim at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjeom in June, the two agreed to resume talks aimed at denuclearising the North in a “couple of weeks.” But no progress has been made so far.

Separately, Cheong Wa Dae’s chief of staff for policy Kim Sang-jo said the government will continue to review ways on how to retain the bilateral military pact with Japan, known as GSOMIA.

“The government will review whether or not to extend the general Security of Military Information Agreement pact with Japan until the last moment. No final decision has been made,” he told participants in a forum held in Seoul.

August 24 is the deadline for Seoul to notify Tokyo of its final decision as to whether or not it will extend the pact for another year. The presidential aide added the government is considering using the withdrawal of GSOMIA as “one card” to take on Japan’s recent decision to remove South Korea from its list of most trusted trading partners.

“The point is for the government to stabilise the supply line, lessen dependence on imports (of core materials) and maintain consistency,” the presidential aide said, adding Japan’s export curbs are connected with the wartime forced labour issue.


Category: Korea

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