US: Ready to Resume NKorea Nuke Talks 08/21 06:16
The United States is ready to restart nuclear negotiations with North Korea,
a senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday, a day after U.S. and South Korean
militaries ended their regular drills that North Korea calls an invasion
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The United States is ready to restart nuclear
negotiations with North Korea, a senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday, a day
after U.S. and South Korean militaries ended their regular drills that North
Korea calls an invasion rehearsal.
During the 10-day U.S.-South Korean training, largely computer-simulated war
games, North Korea raised tensions with its own missile and other weapons
tests. But North Korea's typical harsh rhetoric over the drills focused on
South Korea, not the United States, in a suggestion that it's still interested
in resuming nuclear talks with the U.S.
President Donald Trump said recently he received a "beautiful" three-page
letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump said Kim wanted to meet
again to restart the talks after the U.S.-South Korean drills ended and that
Kim offered him "a small apology" over the weapons tests.
On Wednesday, Trump's top envoy on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, told
reporters in Seoul that "we are prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our
counterparts in North Korea."
Biegun said that Trump assigned his team to restart working-level talks with
North Korea, in line with what Trump and Kim agreed during their third summit
in late June. "I am fully committed to this important mission and we will get
this done," Beigun said.
Beigun also denied media speculation that he may be appointed as the new
U.S. ambassador in Russia. "I will remain focused on making progress on North
Korea," he said.
Beigun was in Seoul for talks with South Korea. His South Korean counterpart
Lee Do-hoon said the two discussed how to quickly resume the nuclear
negotiations and produce "substantial progress."
U.S.-led diplomacy on how to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons
collapsed after Trump rejected Kim's demand for sweeping sanctions relief in
return for partial disarmament steps during their second summit in Vietnam in
February. During their third meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom
on June 30, the two leaders agreed to restart the talks but there has been no
public meeting between the countries.
Many experts say North Korea's recent weapons tests were mainly aimed at
applying pressure on the United States ahead of a possible resumption of talks,
while registering its protest against the military drills. Most of the weapons
tested were short-range missiles and rockets that experts said could target
South Korea, not the mainland U.S.