U.S. stands ready to resume nuclear talks with N. Korea: official

October 16, 2019

The United States remains ready to resume negotiations with North Korea on dismantling its nuclear weapons program, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday following another breakdown in the high-stakes talks.

The comment from David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, comes after U.S. and North Korean negotiators failed to make progress at working-level meetings held in Stockholm, Sweden, on Oct. 5.

While the U.S. proposed meeting again in two weeks, the North has not shown any interest and accused the U.S. of coming to the negotiations empty-handed.

“The United States remains ready to resume constructive discussions with North Korea,” Stilwell said in a written statement submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia ahead of a hearing.

“Our goal is to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK,” he said, adding that the U.S. is also willing to discuss the other agreements reached between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at their first summit in Singapore in June 2018, including transforming the bilateral relationship and establishing a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The two sides have been at odds over how much the North should denuclearize before it receives sanctions relief and security guarantees from the U.S.

Stilwell noted that the sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council remain in effect, and called on the international community to continue to combat sanctions evasion attempts.

He also reiterated Washington’s concerns about the deteriorating relationship between South Korea and Japan, saying their dispute over history and trade has “created an increasingly unsafe and unstable security environment
in Northeast Asia.”

In particular, he said Washington is concerned with South Korea’s decision to end a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement, and pointed to the potential implications in the wake of North Korea’s Oct. 2 test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

“The value of arrangements such as GSOMIA to U.S., South Korean, Japanese, and regional security was underscored again recently with North Korea’s Oct. 2 missile launches,” Stilwell said, noting that the U.S. has been meeting frequently with both sides to seek mutually agreeable solutions.

“While our position has been that we will not serve as a mediator between our two allies, this certainly has not precluded extensive engagement,” he added. “We trust that our allies will prioritize our collective strategic interests, as they have in the past.”

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