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US Eyes ‘Constructive’ Talks With North Korea

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A US special envoy has said the United States is ready to hold constructive talks with North Korea to follow through on a denuclearisation agreement reached by the two countries last year.

Stephen Biegun told his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon, that Washington wanted to make “simultaneous, parallel” progress on the agreement reached at a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore last year, South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Negotiations have stalled since a second summit in Vietnam in February collapsed as both sides failed to taper differences between US calls for denuclearisation and North Korean demands for sanctions relief.

The envoys met ahead of Trump’s visit to South Korea this weekend, during which Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are expected to discuss ways to kick-start the dialogue with the North.

Reclusive North Korea has pursued nuclear and missile programmes for years in defiance of UN Security Council and US sanctions.

Lee offered positive views on a recent cordial exchange of letters between Trump and Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s summit with Kim early this year.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised hopes for a revival of talks after the letters, while Xi told Moon on Thursday that Kim’s resolve for denuclearisation and dialogue remained unchanged.

Moon has said Washington is in behind-the-scenes talks with Pyongyang over a possible third summit and has proposed a fresh round of talks.

But the North on Thursday said the US had become “more and more desperate in its hostile acts” even as it spoke of dialogue.

North Korea’s state media KCNA on Friday urged the United States and South Korea to scrap their plans to carry out joint military drills in the summer.

Working towards the denuclearisation of the “Korean peninsula” is also a grey area which, by North Korea’s reckoning, includes the regional US nuclear umbrella protecting Japan and South Korea.

The United States only wants North Korea to denuclearise.

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