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(2nd LD) N.K. official calls on U.S. to meet year-end deadline before 'window closes'

All Headlines 17:53 November 09, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with talks between key participants of conference)

MOSCOW, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean foreign ministry official has urged the United States to make a "forward-looking" decision within this year, saying the "window for opportunity is closing every day."

The remarks by Jo Chol-su, director-general of the North American department at the North's foreign ministry, at the 2019 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference (MNC) on Friday are the latest in a series of attempts by Pyongyang to pressure Washington to come up with new proposals in their denuclearization talks by setting the deadline as the end of this year.

"We have given considerably much time to the U.S., and we will wait for some results until the end of this year," Jo said in an answer to a participant's question during a session of the conference.

"Though we expect everything to go into a positive direction, I want to say that the window for opportunity is closing bit by bit every day," he added.

Claiming that the North has done its best to show a willingness for progress, the official said that a response "on the same level" from the U.S. is required to have trust as this issue "cannot be resolved unilaterally."

"We maintain our position that the issue should be resolved through dialogue and negotiations. But the most important point is that (such efforts) should bear fruits," Jo said, stressing that it is ready to meet anytime but that "dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless."

Last month, in Stockholm, Sweden, the U.S. and North Korea held the first formal negotiations on the North's nuclear weapons programs since the breakdown of the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February.

But no tangible progress was made due to gaps over the extent of Pyongyang's denuclearization and Washington's sanctions relief.

Friday's session was also attended by Mark Lambert, U.S. special envoy for North Korea, and Lee Do-hoon, South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, but they were known to have just exchanged brief greetings with Jo. At a forum reception on Thursday, Lambert and Jo had a five-minute talk.

Also Friday, Lee held talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and the two shared the view that North Korea and the U.S. need to maintain the dialogue momentum, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said.

Lambert also met with Morgulov and Russian Ambassador-at-Large Oleg Burmistrov in Moscow on Friday to discuss continued U.S.-Russia cooperation on North Korea.

"The conversation was candid and constructive, and Special Envoy Lambert emphasized the importance of continued close coordination with Russia on North Korea," the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said in a statement posted on its website.

According to the organizer, Russia's Center for Energy and Security Studies, the three-day conference brought together some 300 experts and officials from around 40 countries to discuss nuclear nonproliferation and arms control.

Jo Chol-su, director-general of the North American department at North Korea's foreign ministry, arrives in Moscow on Nov. 5, 2019, to attend a nuclear nonproliferation conference set for Nov. 7-9. His arrival came amid speculation that he could meet with U.S. officials also attending the 2019 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference. (Yonhap)


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