(LEAD) US made dialogue offer to North Korea in July, no response yet (sent)
(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more remarks, details)
By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) — The United States made a new offer of dialogue to North Korea this summer via a communication channel in New York, but the North has not responded, the North said on Tuesday. Washington’s nuclear envoy.
US special representative for North Korea Sung Kim said the overture was made through the so-called New York channel, involving the North’s diplomatic mission to the UN, in July, so that he underscored the Joe Biden administration’s continued commitment to reconnecting with Pyongyang.
“I believe that our last communication with the DPRK was over the summer. We sent the message reiterating our interest in re-engagement and also re-offering our assistance with COVID-related items,” Kim said during a briefing. a meeting with reporters in Seoul, referring to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “But I say ‘no interest’ (from the North) in the sense that they haven’t responded to any of our messages.”
The ambassador pointed to a “strict” pandemic-induced lockdown in the North as well as the spread of the coronavirus as potential reasons why the North has remained unresponsive to recent and previous US overtures in recent years.
“As they get the COVID situation under control and open up hopefully they might show some interest,” he said.
Kim stressed that Seoul and Washington have “many creative ideas” for re-engaging with the North, calling on Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table to work for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula and to address “issues of concern to all.” the parts”. “But he didn’t elaborate.
“The problem is that to try these ideas, we need a partner. But the one thing we want to avoid is negotiating on our own,” he said. “We need a willing partner on the other side of the table who will engage us in serious discussion about all of these ideas that we have…many creative ideas, including ideas to address their concerns.”
When asked if his team would join the North in the near future, the envoy said he had no plans at the moment.
In a show of Washington’s desire for diplomacy with Pyongyang, Kim noted that Biden had not ruled out the possibility of a “leadership engagement” with the recalcitrant regime.
“We haven’t ruled out leadership engagement in diplomacy, but it should be done in a way that there is adequate preparation and the prospects for progress are real for our president to personally engage.” , did he declare.
Citing lingering concerns over the possibility of the North carrying out what would be its seventh nuclear test, Kim warned there would be a “stronger than before” response if it happened.
“I believe our response will be responsible and decisive, and it will send a very clear message to the DPRK that there are consequences for their irresponsible actions,” Kim said.
He added: “I think it’s inevitable that our response will be stronger than before. We have to build on what we’ve done because it wouldn’t make sense for us to stay the same as the North -Koreans continue to rise in terms of their provocation.”
Asked to comment on the North’s recent codification of a strong nuclear policy, Kim took it seriously, but warned against “over-analysis” of it.
“I think the security risk is too real for us to just assume it’s all a bluff,” he said. “I think rather than trying to overanalyze what it actually means in reality, it’s much more constructive for us to focus on what we can do, which is to make sure we’re ready. to deal with all eventualities.”
Kim dismissed speculation that North Korea may have been dropped from the list of US political priorities as Washington is preoccupied with a range of other challenges, such as the war in Ukraine.
“I can assure you that this is still a matter of high priority and concern for the US government,” he said, listing a series of concerns about the North’s weapons of mass destruction programs, human rights and humanitarian situations.
Addressing Washington’s “practical and incremental” approach to the North’s nuclear dilemma, the envoy stressed the technical reality: denuclearization cannot happen “overnight.”
“So they should be staggered,” he said. “I think it’s reasonable to expect that you kind of start with (nuclear) freeze and continue to work towards complete denuclearization.”
On the possibility of arms reduction being an intermediate goal towards the end state of denuclearization of the North, he said that “no one” is talking about arms reduction.
“Our policy remains to pursue full denuclearization through diplomacy,” he added.