U.S. open to talks with N.K. amid ongoing sanctions: Biegun

March 11, 2019

The United States remains open to talking to North Korea despite the breakdown of last month’s summit and will push to seal a denuclearization deal while keeping sanctions in place, a top U.S. negotiator said Monday.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, who is in charge of day-to-day negotiations with Pyongyang, made clear that the U.S. seeks the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the North, not just nuclear weapons.

But he said he is “confident we can get there” over time as the consequence of failure would be “huge” for both sides.

“Diplomacy is still very much alive,” Biegun said in a nuclear conference hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank. “We stay closely engaged.”

Neither side has acknowledged any communication since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un came away from their second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27 and 28 with no deal in hand.

The breakdown was attributed to differences over the scope of North Korea’s denuclearization and sanctions relief from the U.S.

“We are not going to do denuclearization incrementally,” Biegun said. “We need a total solution.”

He said lifting the sanctions would amount to “subsidizing” the North’s ongoing development of WMD.