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North Korea open to ‘dialogue’ with the US as tensions brew over a possible nuclear war

May 13, 2017 7:35 AM
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North Korea open to ‘dialogue’ with the US as tensions brew over a possible nuclear war

North Korea vows to find 'plot' culprits0:33

Pyongyang has vowed to find anyone involved in what they say was a CIA-backed plot to kill Kim Jong Un.

A SENIOR North Korean diplomat says Pyongyang will have dialogue with the United States if conditions are right.

Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s foreign ministry director general for US affairs, made the comment to reporters in Beijing on Saturday as she was travelling home from Norway, according to Yonhap newsagency.

“We’ll have dialogue if the conditions are there,” she said when asked if the North was preparing to hold talks with the Trump administration.

When asked if North Korea was also preparing to talk with the new government in South Korea, of liberal President Moon Jae-in, Choe said: “We’ll see.”

The comments by Choe, who is a veteran member of the North’s team of nuclear negotiators, came amid stepped up international efforts to press North Korea and ease tension over its pursuit of nuclear arms.

US President Donald Trump warned in an interview in late April that a “major, major conflict” with the North was possible but he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute over its nuclear and missile programs. Trump later said he would be “honoured” to meet the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, under the right conditions.

Choe was in Norway for so-called Track Two talks with former US government officials, according to Japanese media, the latest in a series of such meetings.

A source with knowledge of the latest meeting said at least one former US government official took part but the US administration was not involved. South Korea’s Moon, elected this week on a platform of a moderate approach to North Korea, says he is willing to visit Pyongyang under the right circumstances and that dialogue must be used along with sanctions to resolve the problem over North Korea’s weapons.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests in defiance of UN and US sanctions and is developing long-range missiles to deliver atomic weapons.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed Australia’s commitment to security on the Korean peninsula during his first phone call with new South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The leaders agreed to strengthen strategic talks and co-operation on North Korea’s nuclear issues during the Friday afternoon call.

President Moon talked up Australian wine and beef and said he hopes bilateral trade will develop further.

The pair invited each other to visit their countries but will first meet at the G20 Summit in Germany in July.

A North Korean parliamentary committee sent a rare letter of protest to the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday over its new package of tougher sanctions.

The sanctions were condemned as a “heinous act against humanity” by the foreign affairs committee of the North’s Supreme People’s Assembly, according to a state media report.

It was not immediately clear how the protest was conveyed - if it was sent by mail or how it was addressed - since North Korea and the United States have no diplomatic relations and virtually no official channels of communication.

The report, carried by the North’s Korean Central News Agency, said the letter was sent Friday.

The Republican-led House overwhelmingly voted May 4 to impose the new sanctions, which target North Korea’s shipping industry and use of what the bill called “slave labour.”

It’s not unusual for Pyongyang to condemn Washington’s moves to censure it, but direct protests to Congress are exceptionally rare. Pyongyang normally expresses its displeasure with Washington through statements by the Foreign Ministry or other institutions, or through representatives at its United Nations mission in New York.

Staff of politicians on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said they had not received a copy of the letter.

However, Rep. Brad Sherman, the top-ranking Democrat on its Asia subcommittee who read the letter online, said it demonstrated North Korea’s vulnerability to sanctions that it was calling for the House to “think twice” about strengthening them.

“It is the regime of Kim Jong Un that should rethink its dangerous nuclear weapons tests, ballistic missile tests, abhorrent human rights record, and state support for terrorism. Sanctions will be tightened if North Korea continues these activities,” Sherman said in a statement. He added the U.S. should be ready to hold talks and relieve sanctions if the North agrees to real concessions on its nuclear and missile programs.


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