South Korea, the United States and Japan today again reached out to Pyongyang for unconditional dialogue after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called on his country to prepare for both, negotiations and confrontation.
“We continue to hope that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) will respond positively to our approach and our offer to meet anywhere, anytime without preconditions,” U.S. special envoy for North Korea Sung Kim said on Monday.
Kim made his remarks at a press conference after a three-way meeting in Seoul with the South Korean nuclear negotiator, Noh Kyu-duk, and the director general for Asia and Oceania of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Takehiro Funakoshi, reported by the Yonhap news agency.
During the meeting, the three diplomats discussed recent statements made by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a plenary session of the single party, in which he called on his country to prepare “for both dialogue and confrontation” with Washington.
This is the first message in which the North Korean leader shows his willingness to dialogue with the United States since the arrival of President Joe Biden in the White House.
Despite the proposal for dialogue, the U.S. envoy assured that the Biden Administration will continue to implement United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions “to address the threat posed by the DPRK to the international community,” and urged other countries to do the same.
Sung Kim assumed the post of special envoy for North Korea in May after serving as the State Department’s acting undersecretary for East Asia and the Pacific.
The diplomat has been in Seoul since last Saturday as part of a five-day visit aimed at coordinating positions with South Korea and Japan toward the North Korean regime.
In their meeting, the three countries agreed to continue cooperating to achieve substantial progress towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the establishment of permanent peace in the territory, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Waiting for news from Pyongyang
Prior to their three-way meeting, Special Envoy Kim held a bilateral meeting with South Korean nuclear negotiator Noh, in which he indicated that, like North Korea, his country will also be prepared for any eventuality.
Referring to the North Korean leader’s statements on dialogue and confrontation, Kim stressed “We will be prepared for either, because, you know, we are still waiting for news from Pyongyang” on the dialogue proposal.
The North Korean regime, more isolated than usual due to its strict measures to prevent covid-19 from spreading in the territory, has not responded, at least publicly, to Washington’s requests since February to resume denuclearization talks.
Noh Kyu-duk said Seoul will continue to play a “necessary” role in the early resumption of the stalled dialogue.
“We wish to restore the structure in which inter-Korean relations and U.S.-DPRK relations are strengthened in a mutually beneficial manner,” the South Korean official said.
Pionyang and Washington staged a historic rapprochement in 2018 during Donald Trump’s presidency that was stalled early the following year over their differences in their approach to the North Korean disarmament process.
Regarding the frictions between the neighboring countries, the American envoy reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to achieve both denuclearization and inter-Korean cooperation through dialogue and diplomacy.