Wed. Aug 4th, 2021

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon dismissed the notion of dialogue with the United States, saying it “would get us nowhere,” in a statement carried by government media.

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“We are not considering even the possibility of any contact with the U.S., let alone having it, which would get us nowhere, only taking up precious time,” the North’s top diplomat said Wednesday evening in state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Ri referenced a message earlier this week by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, in which she said the United States was “facing disappointment” in interpreting Pyongyang’s willingness to meet for negotiations.

North Korea’s foreign ministry “welcomes the clear-cut press statement” by Kim Yo Jong, Ri said, noting that it “brush[ed] off hasty judgment, conjecture and expectation of the U.S.”

His remarks came amid a series of public overtures by Washington officials signaling a willingness to restart diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang.

During a visit to Seoul, U.S. special envoy to North Korea Sung Kim said on Monday that Biden administration officials would meet with Pyongyang’s negotiators “anywhere, anytime without preconditions.”

On Tuesday, State Dept. spokesman Ned Price said that the comments by Kim Yo Jong “have not changed our view on diplomacy.”

“We remain prepared to engage in principal negotiations with the DPRK to deal with the challenge of its nuclear program,” Price said during a press briefing. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

“We continue to hope that the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach, and we’ll have to wait and see if these comments are followed up with any more direct communications about potential paths forward,” Price said. “Again, our policy is not aimed at hostility; it’s aimed at solutions.”

Nuclear negotiations with North Korea have been on ice since a February 2019 summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, between then-U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un failed to produce an agreement.

North Korea had been seeking concessions such as the easing of international sanctions in exchange for taking steps toward dismantling its nuclear arsenal, while the United States held firm on complete denuclearization first.

The Biden administration has called its stance toward North Korea a “calibrated and practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy.”

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