North Korea would agree to meet with Trump administration officials “if the conditions are set”, a senior North Korean diplomat has said amid on-going concern about the rogue state’s development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental missile technology.
Choi Sun-hee, who handles relations with the US, did not explain what conditions would be necessary as she spoke to an Associated Press reporter and other journalists in Beijing after arriving back from an informal meeting with US experts in Norway.
The US and North Korea last held face-to-face talks in 2008, when international negotiations over the latter’s nuclear weapons collapsed.
President Donald Trump said earlier this month he would be “honoured” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Ms Choe met Suzanne DiMaggio, director of the US think tank New America, Thomas Pickering, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, and Robert Einhorn, a former special adviser on arms control to the US State Department, in Oslo.
And Ms Choe confirmed: “I met with Pickering and I will discuss it when given the opportunity in the future.”
When asked if the North was also planning talks with South Korea, she added: “We will observe the situation.”
A US State Department official said the “track-two” talks in Norway did not have official recognition.
“Track-two meetings are routinely held on a variety of topics around the world and occur independent of US government involvement,” a State Department official said.
A North Korean defector recently warned that Mr Kim would launch a nuclear weapon if he believed his regime was under threat.
“He would wage nuclear war even if he knew it would mean finishing himself and harming the North Korean people because he is young and ambitious and doesn’t care about the lives of North Koreans,” the defector told The Independent.
“He also doesn’t know anything about their lives.”