US and North Korea to resume talks in October

WASHINGTON D.C. — The United States and North Korea plan to resume working-level talks next week, according to the US State Department.

“I can confirm that US and (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) officials plan to meet within the next week. I do not have further details to share on the meeting,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Tuesday.

The US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, will lead the US side of the working-level talks with North Korea, according to a State Department official.

Negotiations on denuclearization have stalled since February, when President Donald Trump cut short his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. Trump left the meeting with no joint agreement after Kim insisted all US sanctions be lifted on his country.

The last time the two leaders met was in June in the Korean Demilitarized Zone where they agreed to revive staff-level talks.

Trump and Kim had signed a joint statement during their first summit in Singapore last year that said the North Korean leader “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The signed statement, however, was a vague commitment to nuclear disarmament that did not detail how the international community will verify that Kim is ending his nuclear program.

North Korea had appeared to put its weapons program on hold to allow for negotiations, but the hiatus was broken on May 4 when it tested a new weapons system.

While it has put a moratorium on testing long-range missiles, North Korea has continued to test short-range ballistic missiles and has made no firm commitments to stop testing submarine launched missiles.

Trump has played down Pyongyang’s series of short-range ballistic missile tests that stretched into the summer, saying that the US never restricted short-range missiles, though the launches violate UN Security Council resolutions. Trump has also previously said he’s in no rush to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

Trump showed off a “very beautiful” letter from Kim in August and said that he looks forward to seeing the North Korean dictator “in the not too distant future.”

At the United Nations General Assembly meeting last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US has not been able to have any working-level meetings with North Korea, but added that he’s “hopeful” there will be by the end of September.

“We hope the phone rings and that we get that call, and we get that chance to find a place and a time that work for the North Koreans and that we can deliver on the commitments that Chairman Kim and President Trump made,” Pompeo told reporters.

On Monday, North Korea’s representative to the UN blamed the US for the “little progress” in relations between the two countries.

“It depends on the US whether the DPRK-US negotiations will become a window of opportunity or an occasion that will hasten the crisis,” Kim Song, chair of North Korea’s delegation, told the UN.

Last month, North Korea welcomed the ouster of national security adviser John Bolton and praised Trump for “the wise political decision” of reassessing how talks between the two nations should move forward, according to a statement released through North Korean state media KCNA.

Bolton had claimed last year that the US was considering the “Libya model” for denuclearization, a reference that enraged Trump since it seemed to temporarily derail his diplomatic efforts with Kim.

In his first public remarks since being fired by tweet three weeks ago, Bolton said Monday that Kim would “never give up the nuclear weapons voluntarily.”

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