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NK ambassador urges US to come to nuclear talks with new proposal

North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations urged the United States Monday to come to denuclearization negotiations with a new proposal acceptable to Pyongyang.

In an address to the UN General Assembly in New York, Ambassador Kim Song said it is up to Washington to turn any future negotiations into a "window of opportunity" or "an occasion that will hasten the crisis."

His remarks come as Washington and Pyongyang are expected to resume working-level talks in the coming weeks to negotiate the North's denuclearization in exchange for US economic and political concessions.

The negotiations have stalled since a second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam in February ended without a deal due to differences over the scope of North Korea's denuclearization and sanctions relief from the US.

North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Kim Song (AP-Yonhap)
North Korean Ambassador to the United Nations Kim Song (AP-Yonhap)

"The relations between the DPRK, the US have made little progress so far, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula has not come out of the vicious cycle of increased tension, which is entirely attributable to the political and military provocations perpetrated by the US resorting to the anachronistic hostile policy against the DPRK," Kim, the ambassador, said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Presuming that the US has had enough time to find out a calculation method that can be shared with us, we expressed our willingness to sit with the United States for comprehensive discussion of the issues we have deliberated so far," he continued.

"It depends on the US whether the DPRK-US negotiations will become a window of opportunity, or an occasion that will hasten the crisis."

Earlier this month, the North expressed willingness to resume working-level talks in late September, saying it believes the US will come out with a mutually acceptable proposal.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that no meetings had been scheduled but that the US stands ready to restart the negotiations.

"We believe there are opportunities to engage in conversations that are important and can advance the objectives that were set out in Singapore now a year and a half ago," Pompeo said, referring to the first Trump-Kim summit in June 2018, where the leaders agreed to pursue complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for US security guarantees.

Conditions for the resumption of talks appeared to improve in recent weeks after Trump fired his hawkish former national security adviser, John Bolton, and suggested a "new method" for the negotiations.

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, however, the US president only briefly mentioned North Korea. He emphasized that the North needs to denuclearize in order to tap its economic potential.

Kim complained that the UN Security Council has been "reduced into an instrument for the strategic interests of a specific country," apparently referring to the United States, "thus pursuing sanctions and pressure and even the regime change against selective countries."

North Korea is under a wide array of US-led Security Council sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and has demanded their removal in exchange for denuclearization measures.

The current situation, Kim said, demands that "we hold higher the banner of self-sufficiency and self-reliance in the socialist construction," adding, "These are our precious strategic resources, which cannot be bartered for anything."

There had been speculation that the UN gathering could set the stage for high-level talks between Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong-ho.

Ri, who attended the event the past three years, however, skipped it this year.

The North Korean ambassador also leveled criticism at the South Korean government, accusing it of "double dealing" by entering into inter-Korean agreements last year and then deploying ultra-modern US weapons and holding joint military exercises with its ally this year.

"The introduction of the latest offensive weapons in the US-South Korea joint military exercises targeting the DPRK constituted flagrant violation and challenge to the agreement in military field on completely halting hostile acts against the one side and refraining from building up armed forces for implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration," Kim said, referring to the agreement signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North Korean leader in April 2018.

"The improvement of inter-Korean relations can only be achieved when the South Korean authorities put an end to the big-power worship and the policy of dependence on foreign forces encroaching upon the common interests of the nation and fulfill their responsibility assumed before the nation by implementing the inter-Korean declarations in faith," he added. (Yonhap)