U.S., South Korea nuclear envoys vow work to resume talks with North Korea
Written by tokyoclub on August 23, 2021
The top nuclear envoys of South Korea and the United States pledged Monday to work toward an early resumption of dialogue with North Korea amid tensions with Pyongyang over ongoing military exercises between the allies.
During their meeting in Seoul, Sung Kim, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, and his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu Duk also discussed possible humanitarian assistance to Pyongyang, including measures against infectious diseases, Noh told reporters afterward.
Sung Kim (L), U.S. special representative for North Korea, bumps elbows with his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu Duk during their meeting in Seoul on Aug. 23, 2021. (Getty/Kyodo)
Kim told reporters that the United States supports inter-Korean humanitarian projects.
With North Korea suggesting countermeasures over the U.S.-South Korea exercises, the U.S. envoy stressed that Washington does not have a “hostile intent” toward Pyongyang. He added that such drills are “long-standing, routine and purely defensive in nature.”
Though U.S.-North Korean talks on denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and sanctions relief have stalled since 2019, Kim said, “I’ll continue to stand ready to meet with my North Korean counterparts anywhere, at any time.”
During his previous trip to South Korea in June, the envoy had made a similar remark, offering to meet with the North Korean side “anywhere, anytime, without preconditions.”
Noh said he and Kim pledged to work together to resume North-South and U.S.-North Korea dialogue “as soon as possible” while monitoring the situation surrounding North Korea, including its response to the ongoing military exercise.
Kim, who arrived in South Korea on Saturday, also held talks with visiting Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov on Monday, according to Yonhap News Agency.
A Noh-Morgulov meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.
In late July, North and South Korea restored their communications lines that had been left disconnected for about a year. But North Korea has since hardened its stance as the United States and South Korea moved to hold regular joint military exercises.
On Aug. 10, as the allies effectively began the drills over North Korean opposition, Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, lambasted their military exercises as “a war rehearsal and preliminary nuclear war exercise.”
North Korea “will put more spur to further increasing the deterrent of absolute capacity to cope with the ever-growing military threats from the U.S.,” Kim Yo Jong said in a statement.
The latest drills are set to conclude on Thursday.