U.S. nuke envoy offers to hold talks with DPRK

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SEOUL, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) — Stephen Biegun, U.S. special representative for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) affairs, offered on Monday to hold talks with the DPRK.

The U.S. nuclear envoy made the remarks during a joint press conference in Seoul with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon. He arrived here on Sunday for a three-day visit.

“It is time for us to do our jobs. Let’s get this done. We are here and you know how to reach us,” said Biegun.

“The U.S. does not have a deadline. We have a goal to fulfill the commitments the two leaders made during their historic summit meeting in Singapore,” he noted.

The dialogue offer came amid the deadlocked denuclearization negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington.

The DPRK and the United States held working-level denuclearization talks in Stockholm in October, but it ended without progress. Pyongyang set its deadline for the denuclearization negotiations at the end of this year.

Top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump held the first-ever DPRK-U.S. summit in Singapore in June last year, agreeing to seek the complete denuclearization of and the lasting peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim and Trump met again in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in late February, but it ended without progress. In an impromptu meeting in late June at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom, the two leaders agreed to resume working-level negotiations.

Lee, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, told the press conference that Biegun said the United States had an unwavering willingness to resolve issues through diplomacy and dialogue while confirming that if negotiations are resumed, in-depth discussions on all issues of concern the DPRK had could be made.

“We are fully aware of the strong potential for North Korea (DPRK) to conduct major provocations in the days ahead,” said Biegun.

Biegun noted that “such an action will be most unhelpful” in achieving the permanent peace on the peninsula.

The meeting between the nuclear envoys of South Korea and the United States came after the DPRK said Saturday that it conducted “another crucial test” at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground on Friday evening.

The DPRK’s Academy of Defense Science said in a statement, carried Saturday by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), that “the research successes being registered by us in defense science one after another recently will be applied to further bolster up the reliable strategic nuclear deterrent of the DPRK.”

The DPRK carried out a “very important test” at the same site on Dec. 7. The KCNA reported that the test “will have an important effect on changing the strategic position of the DPRK once again in the near future.”

The Sohae Satellite Launching Ground is a place where the DPRK launched satellite-carrying long-range rockets. It is located in the DPRK’s northwestern coastal town of Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan province.

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