Talks with US if con­di­tions are right, says N. Korean diplo­mat

New Straits Times - - World -

SEOUL: A se­nior North Korean diplo­mat, who han­dles re­la­tions with the United States, yes­ter­day said Py­ongyang would have a di­a­logue with the US ad­min­is­tra­tion if con­di­tions were right, re­ported South Korea’s Yon­hap news agency.

Yon­hap said North Korea’s For­eign Min­istry direc­tor-gen­eral for US af­fairs Choe Son-hui made the com­ment in Bei­jing as she was trav­el­ling home from Nor­way.

“We will have a di­a­logue if the con­di­tions are there,” she said when asked if North Korea was pre­par­ing to hold talks with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

When asked if the North was also pre­par­ing to talk with the new gov­ern­ment in South Korea, of lib­eral Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in, Choe said: “We’ll see.”

The com­ments by Choe, who is a vet­eran mem­ber of the North’s team of nu­clear ne­go­tia­tors, came amid stepped up in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to press Py­ongyang and ease ten­sion over its pur­suit of nu­clear arms.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump warned in an in­ter­view in April that a “ma­jor, ma­jor con­flict” with the North was pos­si­ble, but he would pre­fer a di­plo­matic out­come to the dis­pute over its nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grammes.

Trump later said he would be “hon­oured” to meet the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, un­der the right con­di­tions.

Choe was in Nor­way for so­called Track Two talks with for­mer US gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to Ja­panese me­dia, the lat­est in a se­ries of such meet­ings.

A source with knowl­edge of the lat­est meet­ing said at least one for­mer US gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial took part, but the US ad­min­is­tra­tion was not in­volved.

South Korea’s Moon, elected this week on a plat­form of a mod­er­ate ap­proach to North Korea, said he would be will­ing to go to the iso­lated state un­der the right cir­cum­stances.

He said di­a­logue must be used in par­al­lel with sanc­tions to re­solve the prob­lem over North Korea’s weapons.

North Korea has con­ducted five nu­clear tests in de­fi­ance of United Na­tions and US sanc­tions, and is de­vel­op­ing long-range mis­siles to de­liver atomic weapons.

It said it needed such weapons to de­fend it­self against US ag­gres­sion. Reuters

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