The Biden administration’s top diplomat for North Korea policy on Monday called for Pyongyang to consider restarting nuclear talks with the U.S. as he said America “does not have hostile intent” toward the country.
U.S. Special Envoy Sung Kim made the comments during a press conference in Seoul, days after the North Korean regime lambasted the U.S. and South Korea for pushing hostility through joint military drills.
Mr. Kim, who is on a four-day visit to South Korea, urged North Korea to consider restarting working-level nuclear talks that have been stalled for more than two years, following a period of high-level and high-stakes diplomacy during the Trump era.
He sought to ease tensions that have soared with Pyongyang during recent weeks amid the North Korean regime’s outrage over joint U.S.-South Korea military drills.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister Kim Yo Jong released a statement recently describing the drills as the “most vivid expression of the U.S. hostile policy” toward North Korea and asserting that the North will work faster to strengthen its capabilities to carry out its own preemptive military strikes.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency cited the regime as warning of a “serious security crisis” over the joint drills.
U.S. Special Envoy Kim responded Monday by asserting outright that “the United States does not have hostile intent toward [North Korea].”
“The ongoing [U.S.-South Korea] combined military exercises are longstanding, routine and purely defensive in nature and support the security of both our countries,” Mr. Kim told reporters in Seoul, according to Reuters news agency.
He made the remarks after meeting with South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy, Noh Kyu-duk, who said the two discussed possible humanitarian aid to North Korea, as well as efforts to restart the stalled nuclear talks.
The visit marks the latest attempt by the Biden administration to get talks with the North Koreans moving.
Diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang briefly reached historic levels during the Trump administration, with Mr. Trump meeting three times with Mr. Kim. However, the meetings fell short of producing any major agreement for the North Korean regime to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.
Tensions with the Kim regime have simmered during the past two years.
The North’s weapons program has been built up clandestinely for decades in violation of repeated U.N. Security Council resolutions.