Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Korea 'very willing' to hold talks with United States, says South Korea

Members of the South Korean four-man bobsleigh team celebrate their joint silver medal with a German team at Olympic Sliding Centre in PyeongChang Gangon Province during the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics on Feb. 25 2018. From left Won Yun-jong Jun Jung Korea 'very willing' to hold talks with United States, says South Korea
Nellie Chapman | 01 March, 2018, 18:24

The White House said any talks with North Korea must lead to an end to its nuclear program after senior officials from Pyongyang visiting South Korea said on Sunday their government was open to talks with the United States.

"We are in close contact with the Republic of Korea about our unified response to North Korea".

North Korea - which carried out multiple missile tests previous year, including those believed capable of reaching the United States mainland - has long expressed its desire to talk to Washington without preconditions.

Kim Yo Jong had no interaction with US Vice President Mike Pence at the opening ceremony just over two weeks ago, even though they were just a few seats apart.

Sanders is traveling with the U.S. delegation, and made the comments after the United States announced further sanctions against North Korea late Friday.

The North's state-run news agency ran a story Sunday quoting a "spokesman for the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee" as saying that Pence insulted Kim's sister with his hard-line rhetoric after returning to the USA and "we will never have face-to-face talks with them even after 100 years or 200 years".

The North sent the sister of ruler Kim Jong Un to the February 9 opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympics as a special envoy.

Moon's pledge came in a meeting with Chinese delegates to the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, led by Vice Premier Liu Yandong.

Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing the ship - a charge the North denies.

The delegation's return home completes North Korea's diplomatic outreach to the South during the Pyeongchang Olympics that was seen as an attempt to break out from the isolation and pressure North Korea faces over its nuclear program. He said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted to improve ties with Washington and had "ample intentions of holding talks" with its rival, according to the South's presidential office.

Pence and Kim Yo Jong did not speak. They did not appear to interact when Jae-in shook hands with dignitaries at the beginning of Sunday's closing ceremony.

Gen Kim is blacklisted under Seoul's unilateral sanctions against the North, meaning he is subject to an assets freeze.

Trump has vowed to use force if necessary to prevent North Korea from acquiring a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the USA mainland. Instead, he said if sanctions don't work, "we'll have to go to phase 2", although he didn't spell out what phase 2 would be, he added, "Phase 2 may be a very rough thing - may be very, very unfortunate for the world". He did not elaborate. "If we can't, something will have to happen", Trump said.