North Korea official says Pyongyang open to US talks under ‘conditions’ | world-news | Hindustan Times
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North Korea official says Pyongyang open to US talks under ‘conditions’

Diplomat Choi Sun-hee did not elaborate on what the North’s conditions are, but her comments raise the possibility of North Korea and the US returning to negotiations for the first time since 2008

world Updated: May 13, 2017 18:13 IST
North Korea
Choi Sun-hee, the top North Korean diplomat who handles relations with the US walks prior to her departure for Pyongyang, North Korea, at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on May 13.(AP Photo)

A top North Korean diplomat said Saturday that Pyongyang would be willing to meet with the Trump administration for negotiations “if the conditions are set.”

Choi Sun-hee, the top North Korean diplomat who handles relations with the US, spoke briefly to reporters in Beijing en route to Pyongyang. She was travelling from Norway, where she led a delegation that held an informal meeting with former US officials and scholars.

Choi did not elaborate on what the North’s conditions are, but her comments raise the possibility of North Korea and the US returning to negotiations for the first time since 2008, when six-nation talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program fell apart.

President Donald Trump opened the door this month to talks, saying he would be “honoured” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Tensions have mounted in recent months after the Trump administration said it would keep “all options on the table” to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, including a military strike. The North responded by pledging to retaliate with a devastating nuclear counterattack, a threat it has made in the past.

In recent weeks, North Korea has arrested two American university instructors and laid out what it claimed to be a CIA-backed plot to assassinate Kim. Choi did not address the matter of the detained Americans on Saturday.

In Norway, Choi met with former US officials and scholars for what are known as “track 2” talks. The talks, which cover a range of nuclear, security and bilateral issues, are held intermittently, and are an informal opportunity for the two sides to exchange opinions and concerns.