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U.S. and N. Korea will not return to past days of conflict and confrontation: Seoul official

All Headlines 18:04 March 17, 2019

SEOUL, March 17 (Yonhap) -- The United States and North Korea have made too much progress over the past year in their nuclear talks to return to where they were before negotiations started, a high-ranking official of the presidential office said Sunday.

His outlook comes amid growing uncertainty after North Korea threatened to quit nuclear talks with Washington following the breakdown of the summit between their leaders last month in Hanoi.

"North Korea and the U.S. never want to go back to the days of conflict and confrontation seen before 2017," the Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "Both sides have moved forward too much to return to the past."

The official added that both sides have expressed an intention to keep talking to each other despite the collapse of the summit in Hanoi.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump met in the Vietnamese capital last month but failed to reach a deal as they were miles apart on how to match Pyongyang's denuclearization steps with sanctions relief from Washington.

In Pyongyang on Friday, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said that North Korea is reconsidering whether to continue nuclear talks with the U.S. and its moratorium on missile and nuclear tests.

She blamed Washington for the breakdown of last month's summit but did not make a direct criticism of Trump, saying Kim and Trump maintain good chemistry.

It is unclear whether Choe's remarks are aimed at putting pressure on Washington before resuming their nuclear negotiations or actually signal an end to the talks.

In response to Choe's remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he is hopeful that nuclear negotiations with North Korea will continue. Earlier U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said, "Diplomacy is still very much alive."

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