The US and North Korea are expected to resume denuclearization talks soon, Kim Hyun-chong, a deputy director at the presidential National Security Office, said Thursday after a meeting with a top US envoy for Pyongyang.
“The impression I have (from the meeting) is that talks between the US and North Korea will soon begin and it will go well,” Kim told reporters at the Government Complex in Seoul.
US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun (left) and Kim Hyun-chong, a deputy director at the presidential National Security Office (Yonhap)
But Kim said he cannot disclose the details that convinced him US-North Korea nuclear talks were imminent.
Asked if the North sent a specific signal regarding reopening of talks, Kim denied that the regime showed such a move.
He met for about an hour with US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, who visited here for three days starting Tuesday, as Washington seeks to hold working-level negotiations to get a more substantial picture of how the North intends to relinquish its nuclear and missile programs and what reciprocal steps the US should take.
The presidential official said he had conveyed a message to Biegun from Cheong Wa Dae, mentioning the need for close cooperation between Seoul and Washington regarding the negotiation process for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“As there is trust between Representative Biegun and his (South Korean) counterpart, Lee Do-hoon, and they have been sharing everything, things will go well,” he said.
A lower-level meeting was initially expected to take place in July after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed during a meeting at Panmunjom on June 30 that they would hold one within weeks.
While Washington has repeatedly said it is ready to return to the negotiating table, Pyongyang has ramped up its rhetoric and conducted missile tests to protest a joint South Korea-US military exercise.
Commenting on North Korea’s recent criticism of the South Korean government, the presidential official said the US had praised the restraint Seoul had shown in response to the situation.
On Wednesday, Biegun renewed his commitment to the denuclearization talks and said the US negotiating team is “prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our counterparts in North Korea.”
On the day, Biegun paid a courtesy call to Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul and held a meeting with Seoul’s top nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon.
Biegun’s visit to Seoul raised hopes that he might meet with North Korean officials at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom as the two countries’ leaders continue their personal diplomacy.
Earlier this month, Trump said he had received a letter from the North Korean leader that showed his willingness to meet the US president as soon as the military drills finished. It ended on Tuesday.
By Park Han-na (email@example.com