Seoul, Oct 24 (IANS) Sung Kim, Washington’s Special Representative for North Korea, said on Sunday that he looked forward to continuing exploring different options with South Korea to resume dialogue with Pyongyang, including the proposed declaration of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim reiterated Washington’s willingness to help address the North’s humanitarian concerns for its people in need, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic, speaking to reporters right after a meeting here with his South Korean counterpart, Noh Kyu-duk, Yonhap News Agency reported.
He also called on Pyongyang to stop “provocations” and other destabilizing activities, and return to dialogue.
Their talks in Seoul came after tensions resurfaced following the North’s recent test-firing of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
They met in Washington last week — a sign of stepped-up diplomacy to resume dialogue with the North.
“I look forward to continuing to work with special representative Noh to explore different ideas and initiatives, including the ROK’s end-of-war proposal as we continue to pursue our shared objectives on the peninsula,” Kim said.
ROK stands for South Korea’s official name, Republic of Korea.
Calling the latest SLBM test “concerning and counterproductive”, he highlighted Washington’s “strong commitment” to the defence of the South and exploring “sustained and substantive” diplomacy with the North.
Kim described the latest launch as a breach of multiple UN Security Council resolutions but underlined the Joe Biden administration’s desire to re-engage with the North.
“We remain ready to meet with the DPRK without preconditions, and we have made clear that the US harbours no hostile intent towards the DPRK,” he said, referring to the North’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“We hope the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach,” he added.
Upon Kim’s trip here, keen attention was drawn to whether he will shine more light on the U.S. position about President Moon Jae-in’s recent proposal for the end-of-war declaration, but he didn’t elaborate further.
Kim’s characterisation of the North’s latest SLBM test as a “provocation” came as Pyongyang demanded Seoul and Washington drop what it terms “double standards” in reference to the allies casting the North’s missile launches as provocations while justifying their own as “deterrence”.
Noh said the latest security situation on the Korean Peninsula underscored the urgent need for resuming talks North Korea, and Seoul and Washington are ready to discuss any issues at the negotiating table if the North accepts their talk offer.
North Korea remains unresponsive to US overtures. It has also stayed away from talks with the US since the Hanoi summit in 2019 between the US and North Korea ended without a deal.
The US envoy is scheduled to depart Seoul later in the day for Indonesia, where he doubles as Ambassador.