US envoy proposes meeting with North Korea “anytime, anywhere”

US envoy proposes meeting with North Korea “anytime, anywhere”

Sung Kim, the US special envoy to North Korea, has offered to meet Pyongyang officials “anywhere, anytime” amid a lingering deadlock in negotiations between the two.
In the meantime, the United States will continue to apply United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and urge other countries to do the same, Kim said Monday.

“We continue to hope that the DPRK responds positively to our outreach and our offer to meet anywhere, anytime without preconditions,” he said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kim, whose appointment was announced at last month’s summit between US President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in, arrived in Seoul on Saturday for a five-day visit.

The Biden administration has previously promised a “practical and calibrated approach” to North Korea, including diplomatic efforts, to persuade the country to abandon its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

In his first response to Biden’s policy review, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said last week that Pyongyang must prepare for both “dialogue and confrontation.”

Talks to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program have stalled since a failed third summit between the North Korean leader and Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump.

Rush-hour Pyongyang residents Kim Jong Un calls food situation in country “tense” [File: Kim Won Jin/AFP]

US envoy Kim has had back-to-back meetings with South Korea’s main nuclear envoy Noh Kyu-duk, as well as a trilateral session involving his Japanese counterpart, Takehiro Funakoshi.

Noh said he and Kim had discussed ways to cooperate and facilitate a “swift” resumption of dialogue with North Korea. Noh and Funakoshi were also due to have a bilateral meeting to discuss North Korea.

Last week, Kim Jong Un said North Korea’s food situation was “tense,” sounding the alarm in a country with a dying agricultural sector that has long struggled to feed itself and is now subject to severe stress. self-imposed isolation in an attempt to protect against the coronavirus. pandemic.

KCTV, a state-owned company, reported on Sunday that Kim Jong Un and senior officials discussed “emergency measures” to deal with the country’s “current food crisis”.

North Korea has long insisted it had no case of the virus – analysts doubt – but it has paid a heavy economic price for its self-imposed blockade.

Trade with China, its economic lifeline, has slowed, while all international aid work is under tight restrictions.


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