North Korea is willing to hold talks with the United States later this month, the vice foreign minister in Pyongyang said in a statement on Monday, a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also expressed hope for a resumption in the stop-start dialogue process.
“We are willing to comprehensively talk through the issues we have discussed so far at an agreed time and place in late September,” Choe Son Hui said in the statement, which was carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
On Sunday, Pompeo said the administration was “hopeful that in the coming days or perhaps weeks we’ll be back at the negotiating table with them.”
Talks between the two sides were supposed to resume soon after the late June summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. But the promised “working-level” dialogue never took place.
Instead, North Korea continued to conduct tests of short-term ballistic missiles and complained bitterly about U.S.-South Korea military exercises as well as Seoul’s weapons purchases.
But having made its point, Pyongyang appears finally ready to talk again.
Although the ballistic missile tests violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, Pompeo told ABC News’s “This Week” that they did not violate the commitments Kim had made to Trump.
“I think President Trump would be very disappointed if Chairman Kim doesn’t return to the negotiating table or conducts missile tests that are inconsistent with the agreements that they made when the two of them were together these three times,” Pompeo said in an interview. The two leaders had also met in Hanoi in February and in Singapore in June 2018.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Simon Denyer