U.S. envoy hopes N. Korea will accept offer to meet ‘anytime, anywhere without preconditions’

June 21, 2021

The United States has offered to meet with North Korea “anywhere, anytime without preconditions” and looks forward to a positive response from Pyongyang, the new U.S. special envoy for the North said Monday.

Ambassador Sung Kim made the remarks during trilateral talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, Noh Kyu-duk and Takehiro Funakoshi, in Seoul, where they discussed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s recent remarks that his country should be ready for both dialogue and confrontation.

“We continue to hope that the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach and our offer to meet anywhere, anytime without preconditions,” Kim said, referring to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kim also stressed that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden will continue to implement U.N. Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang.

“We will also urge all U.N. member states, especially U.N. Security Council members, to do the same, to address the threat posed to the international community by the DPRK,” he said.

Sung Kim, new U.S. special representative for North Korea, speaks during trilateral talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul in this pool photo taken on June 21, 2021. (Yonhap)
South Korea's top nuclear envoy, Noh Kyu-duk (R), and his U.S. counterpart, Sung Kim, pose for a photo before their talks at a hotel in Seoul on June 21, 2021. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)
(From L to R) U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim stands side by side with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts -- Noh Kyu-duk and Takehiro Funakoshi -- at the start of their trilateral talks on efforts to denuclearize Pyongyang at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul in this pool photo on June 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

Sung Kim, new U.S. special representative for North Korea, speaks during trilateral talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul in this pool photo taken on June 21, 2021. (Yonhap)

Kim took over as special representative for the North last month while concurrently serving as ambassador to Indonesia. His trip to Seoul came after North Korea concluded a four-day plenary meeting of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee last week.

At the meeting, the North Korean leader called for his country to be prepared for both dialogue and confrontation, but more importantly the latter, and stressed the need for the “stable control” of the Korean Peninsula situation.

Kim’s directive was construed as a sign of his openness to dialogue as well as an implicit call for Washington to offer more concrete incentives for the resumption of nuclear diplomacy with Pyongyang.

In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called Kim’s comments an “interesting signal,” saying, “We will wait to see whether they are followed up with any kind of more direct communication to us about a potential path forward.”

Nuclear talks between the U.S. and the North have remained stalled since the Hanoi summit between then U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in 2019 ended without a deal.

During his bilateral talks with Noh earlier in the day, the U.S. envoy said that Washington will also be prepared for either dialogue or confrontation.

“We will be prepared for either, because you know, we are still waiting to hear back from Pyongyang,” he said. “Hopefully, Chairman Kim’s reference to dialogue indicates that we will get a positive response soon.”

After the talks, the U.S. envoy reaffirmed the two countries’ shared commitment to pursuing the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through diplomacy and dialogue.

“I also reiterated our support for meaningful inter-Korean dialogue, cooperation and engagement as our two leaders did in Washington, during President Moon’s visit to Washington,” he said, referring to the May 21 summit.

Noh said during talks with Kim that Seoul will continue to play a “necessary” role for the early resumption of dialogue with Pyongyang through coordination with Washington.

“We wish to restore the structure where inter-Korean and U.S.-DPRK relations reinforce each other in a mutually beneficial way,” he said.

Noh later held separate bilateral talks with Funakoshi, and the two sides agreed that bilateral and trilateral cooperation between the three countries is “essential” for regional peace and stability, especially dealing with the North.

“We’ve had very close consultation in the process of the U.S. policy review for North Korea and today’s meeting will be another starting point for our policy consultation,” he said at the start of the talks.

Later in the day, Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong met with Kim and his delegation and called for “watertight” cooperation between Seoul and Washington to make substantive progress in peace efforts on the peninsula.

Kim was accompanied by Deputy Special Representative Jung Pak and Adam Farrar, director for the Korean Peninsula at the National Security Council.

Kim, who doubles as ambassador to Indonesia, arrived here Saturday for a five-day visit. It marks his first trip since Biden announced his appointment last month in a signal of his administration’s readiness for dialogue with the North.