Kim Jong-un’s foreign minister Ri Yong-ho says North Korea is willing to talk to South Korea as long as the US stops sanctions – but the US doesn’t need to change its sanctions, he adds North Korea is willing to talk to South Korea as long as the US stops sanctions, foreign minister Ri Yong-ho says North Korea’s foreign minister has made a new offer to South Korea and the United States, saying it will hold
negotiations if the two rivals both make steps to ease sanctions. The offer appears to reflect that the previously defiant North, which has spoken of missiles capable of striking the US mainland as recently as September, appears to be taking a more conciliatory line following summits with China and South Korea earlier this month. South Korea says those summits saw Kim Jong-un seek new ties, thawing tensions on the
divided peninsula after a year that included the North’s biggest nuclear test and launch of long-range missiles, as well as threats from Pyongyang to lob missiles near Guam. North Korea’s state media reported Kim’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday as another major step forward in the new era of engagement. The North Korean representative at the negotiating table in Pyongyang, Ri Yong-ho, said North
Korea was willing to hold talks with Seoul and Washington “at any time” if “they do not impose sanctions and pressure upon us.” He said the North is open to discussing “everything” with the US, but added that South Korea’s decision to decide whether or not to resume military drills with the US “will determine whether the talks will proceed or not.” North Korea criticized Seoul for scrapping plans to hold the planned
springtime drills in the wake of the summit with Trump, and it is asking that South Korea return to the last policy that “took us closer to a durable peace and reunification.” Ri said the US should move away from sanctions that it imposed when it imposed a trade embargo in 2012 against the North, and he called for lifting sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear program. With the exception of EU sanctions, Ri said,
North Korea is only protesting against illegal US sanctions. He noted that the previous Obama administration left the UN General Assembly unscathed over sanctions imposed against North Korea for a March 2, 2016, cyberattack targeting South Korean companies and government agencies. The North was accused of attacking those sites with infiltration software designed to install malicious files on network servers.
Pyongyang has promised to close its nuclear test site and resume efforts to dismantle its nuclear weapons and missile facilities following the North’s June inter-Korean summit that also included a visit by Kim to China. Ri acknowledged that dismantling the nuclear test site is an important step in the process, but said it could also “add doubts” over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Ri said that as long
as the US considers the North a threat, Pyongyang won’t be able to give up its nuclear weapons or shut down the nuclear test site. The North’s offer could complicate plans for high-level talks between the US and North Korea, which the Trump administration had hoped would be held before the end of the year. But there has been no indication that an invitation for high-level talks has been extended to US officials.