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Seoul voices hope for resumption of N.K.-U.S. talks despite Pyongyang's warning

All Headlines 11:26 July 17, 2019

SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea voiced hope Wednesday that the United States and North Korea will hold working-level talks at an earlier date as agreed, despite the North's warning a day earlier that joint military drills by Seoul and Washington could affect the process.

"The government expects that the North and the U.S. will hold their working-level talks at an earlier date and produce practical progress in their denuclearization negotiation," Lee Sang-min, the unification ministry's spokesperson, told a regular press briefing.

"We will closely monitor developments in the North going forward," he added, answering a question about the government's response to Pyongyang's warning a day earlier.

On Tuesday, North Korea blasted the U.S. for seeking to hold the "19-2 Dong Maeng" drill, calling it a war rehearsal and warning that it "would affect the DPRK-U.S. working-level talks." DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks within a few weeks when they held a surprise meeting on June 30 at the inter-Korean border.

Nuclear negotiations have been stalled since the no-deal summit between Trump and Kim in February, which collapsed as they failed to find common ground over Pyongyang's denuclearization steps and Washington's sanctions relief.

Hours after the North's warning, Washington reaffirmed that the allies are preparing to stage a joint military exercise this fall but noted that it looks forward to resuming talks with North Korea.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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