North Korea says it's open to talks with US

Saul Bowman
March 7, 2018

"We hope that all relevant parties can seize the current opportunity, work for the shared goal and make concerted efforts to promote the process of denuclearisation of the Peninsula and politically resolving the Korean Peninsula issue", Mr Geng said.

"The South and North agreed to hold the third South-North summit talks at the Peace House in Panmunjeom in late April and to proceed to a specific working-level coordination for this".

"We have seen nothing to indicate ... that he would be willing to give up those weapons", Dan Coats, the director of USA national intelligence, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.

North Korea has boasted of its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the mainland United States.

North Korea's willingness to hold a "candid dialogue" with the United States to discuss denuclearization and establish diplomatic relations follows a year of increased fears of war on the Korean Peninsula, with Kim and Trump exchanging fiery rhetoric and crude insults over Kim's barrage of weapons tests.

According to the State Department, the use of the chemical agent VX at the Kuala Lumpur airport was sanctioned by North Korea.

On-again off-again "six-party" talks, grouping the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and the United States and hosted by China, ended in failure in 2009, with North Korea criticising US aggression.

"The reality is that North Korea now has an intercontinental ballistic missile that can allegedly hit targets in the US", the paper wrote.

Leaders around the world have also met the apparent breakthrough with guarded optimism, wary of repeating past negotiations that failed to prevent Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

"I really believe they are honest", Trump said at a White House news conference, sounding more optimistic than his intelligence chief, Dan Coats, who told a Senate hearing he has "very, very low confidence" that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un intends to give up his nuclear arms.

This comes as South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent his envoys to Pyongyang for two days this week to meet with Kim, who hosted a welcome dinner for the envoys. North Korea says it's open to getting rid of its nuclear program if there's no military threat against it and the safety of its regime was secured. He held a news briefing, wrapping up the results of his discussions with the North Korean leader.

National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong, who has close contacts in the United States, and National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon, who is known as South Korea's top North Korea negotiator, will be making the trip. But the North's state media earlier reported Kim had "openhearted" talks with South Korean envoys, expressed his willingness to "vigorously advance" North-South relations and made a "satisfactory" agreement on the inter-Korean summit talks.

"The drills had been postponed for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics".

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