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S. Korea ready to help N. Korea, U.S. resume denuclearization talks: official

All Headlines 11:44 March 31, 2020

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is ready to help North Korea and the United States resume their long-halted denuclearization talks, a unification ministry official said Tuesday, a day after the North strongly criticized Washington and threatened to quit negotiations.

In a statement issued Monday by the North Korean foreign ministry's "new department director general for negotiations with the U.S.," Pyongyang lashed out at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for encouraging other nations to stay committed to sanctions on the North.

The North also said it lost interest in dialogue and will "go our own way."

"Basically, the government expects that the North and the U.S. will resume negotiations as swiftly as possible with mutual respect for the stake of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishment of permanent peace," the ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

"To that end, if necessary, the government will make all diplomatic efforts," the official added.

In a telephone briefing with Yonhap News Agency and other news outlets held hours after the North's statement, Pompeo reaffirmed that international sanctions should be in place until the North takes steps to denuclearize but added that Washington looks forward to sitting down with North Korea's leadership for nuclear talks.

Nuclear talks have stalled since the no-deal summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump about a year ago as they failed to narrow differences over how to match Pyongyang's denuclearization steps and Washington's concessions, such as sanctions relief.

Last week, North Korea said that Trump sent a letter to its leader to offer help with the country's fight against the coronavirus, calling it "a good example showing the special and firm personal relations."

The North still cautioned against misjudging the two countries' ties based only on the personal relations of the two leaders, warning that the bilateral relations will continue to be harmed "if impartiality and balance are not provided and unilateral and greedy intention is not taken away."

S. Korea ready to help N. Korea, U.S. resume denuclearization talks: official - 1

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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