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Any talks with North Korea will be a first step to denuclearisation: White House

North Korea has conveyed its willingness of talks with the US to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

world Updated: Feb 26, 2018 23:09 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
North Korea,denuclearisation,White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.(AP)

The United States has responded warily to North Korea’s willingness for talks, saying it would like to ascertain if Pyongyang has understood that any dialogue at this point would be a first step towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

The Trump administration is committed to “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation” of the peninsula, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement on Sunday. She said that “we will see if Pyongyang’s message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearisation”.

“As President Trump has said, there is a brighter path available for North Korea if it chooses denuclearisation,” she said.

Earlier, North Korea had conveyed its willingness of talks with the US to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Ahead of the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics, Moon’s office said: “The North Korean delegation said that North Korea is willing to have talks with the US and the North agrees that inter-Korean relations and North Korea-US relations should advance together.”

The statement did not mention if Pyongyang’s willingness to discuss nuclear weapons or denuclearization.

There were no direct interactions between delegations of officials from the US and North Korea at the games. US vice president Mike Pence and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong sat in the same box for the opening ceremony but did not interact. On Sunday, Ivanka Trump shared the same enclosure for the closing ceremony with North Korean spymaster Gen Kim Yong-chol. There were no reported interactions between them.

But Korea watchers have said they can see talks taking place at lower levels because Ivanka Trump’s delegation also included Allison Hooker — an official who had met Kim Yong-chol in 2014.

Moon, who ran for office on the promise of reconciliation with North Korea and who has since pushed for dialogue, met with the North Korean delegation for an hour at an undisclosed location, according to reports.

Pyongyang’s willingness to hold talks was conveyed in a statement from Moon’s office, the Blue House, marking a first such move in years from the isolated nation.

First Published: Feb 26, 2018 21:41 IST