North Korea turns down US offer for official meeting

The Nation  |  Jun 24, 2021

North Korea has turned down a US offer for an official meeting and stated that it has no intentions to contact Washington, the country's foreign minister said late on Wednesday.

Ri Son Gwon said in a statement that the Foreign Ministry welcomes the clear-cut press statement issued by the vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, which brushed off hasty judgment, conjecture, and expectation of the US.

"We are not considering even the possibility of any contact with the US, let alone having it, which would get us nowhere, only taking up precious time," Gwon said.

On Tuesday, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s influential sister Kim Yo Jong dismissed any talks with Washington and said the US could face disappointment.

"I heard the news that the US National Security Advisor had mentioned that he regards the position towards the US as an ‘interesting signal,’ which the Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea clarified this time," said in a statement published by state-run Korean Central News Agency.

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"The expectation, which they chose to harbor the wrong way, would plunge them into a greater disappointment," she added.

Earlier on Monday, US special envoy for North Korea Sung Kim offered to meet with North Korean officials "anywhere, anytime, without preconditions," and said he was hoping for a positive response from Pyongyang.

"We continue to hope that the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) will respond positively to our outreach and our offer to meet anywhere, anytime without preconditions," the Yonhap News agency quoted Kim as saying during trilateral talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul.

The US envoy's statement came after North Korean leader Kim on Friday said his country should prepare for both "dialogue and confrontation" with the US administration led by President Joe Biden.

Last month, Biden also said the US and South Korea are willing to engage diplomatically with North Korea.

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In March, North Korea had turned down an offer by the US for talks, saying dialogue would be possible only if both sides come to "equal footing."

In a statement, the country’s First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui said Washington had been trying to make contact through several channels since mid-February.

Former US President Donald Trump held three successive rounds of talks with North Korea, but was ultimately unable to agree on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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