US official renews calls for N.Korea to abandon nukes

Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reviews the military units participating in the country’s largest-ever live-fire drill to mark the 85th founding anniversary of its armed forces on April 25, 2017, in this photo released by the party organ Rodong Sinmun the next day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap/IANS)

Seoul, May 25 (IANS) US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien renewed calls for North Korea to give up its nuclear program if it wants to have a “great economy”, after Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong-un held a key party meeting to discuss bolstering nuclear deterrence.

In his first public appearance in about three weeks, Kim presided over a session of the Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission to discuss “new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report on Sunday.

The North’s first mention of “nuclear war deterrence” since early 2018 came amid an impasse in nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang, and its struggle to improve its economy crippled by global sanctions and a pandemic-driven plunge in trade with China.

“We’ve managed to avoid a conflict with North Korea over the last three and a half years. The president has engaged in some excellent personal diplomacy with Kim Jong-un,” Yonhap News Agency quoted O’Brien as saying in a CBS News interview on Sunday.

“But ultimately, the North Koreans, if they want to re-enter the world, if they want to have a great economy, we hope they do, they are going to have to give up their nuclear program,” the official added.

O’Brien also said the US will keep an eye on developments in what he calls a “very closed society” in North Korea.

Nuclear talks have not been held between Washington and Pyongyang since working-level dialogue in Sweden in October 2019.

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