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Premature to judge if inter-Korean dialogue is beginning of change: U.S. senior adviser

All News 12:06 January 09, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- It's premature to judge if the results from the ongoing talks between South and North Korea will lead to any changes in the United States' policy toward North Korea, an American senior diplomatic policy adviser said Tuesday, vowing that the U.S. pressure campaign on Pyongyang will continue until achieving its policy goal.

"One of the questions we get is that 'Is this a beginning of something?' and the Secretary (Rex Tillerson) believes that it's premature to judge if it's a beginning of something," Brian Hook, senior policy adviser to Secretary of State Tillerson, told Asian reporters in a press conference over the phone.

"What we don't know is what North Korea is going to bring to this discussion. Do they just wanna talk about the Olympics or do they wanna talk about something else?" he said, referring to the ongoing inter-Korean talks, which resumed after a hiatus of more than two years.

"President (Donald) Trump hopes a positive development results from the talks. ... It's a start, and we believe that if something can come out of those talks that will be a good thing. But we expect that it's gonna be mostly focused around the Olympics," the senior adviser said.

"It could be meaningful, it could be important, (but) it could also just be a meeting about the Olympics and nothing else would happen," he said.

Ranking officials from the two Koreas kicked off high-level talks on the border compound of Panmunjom earlier in the day to discuss the North's participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and the inter-Korean relationship.

South Korea and the U.S. are in "close contact" about their "unified response" to North Korea, and the U.S. is expecting to receive an early readout from Seoul about the results of the Tuesday talks, the senior adviser said.

As with its policy toward Pyongyang, the U.S. "remains focused on our global pressure campaign that is designed to bring Kim Jong-un to the table for meaningful negotiations," Hook said. "The end state of the pressure campaign remains the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Officials will discuss how to further boost the effect of sanctions on North Korea at a meeting next week in Vancouver of the ministers of countries that sent troops to fight alongside the South in the Korean War, he said, adding, "There's a long way to go."

"We know that the pressure campaign is being felt, and it is our policy that (the) pressure campaign will continue in some forms or another until we achieve our policy goal."

pbr@yna.co.kr
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