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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. reaffirm efforts to engage with N. Korea

All News 07:37 October 13, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from the South Korean national security adviser in paras 8-14; CHANGES attribution for press release)
By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) -- The top national security advisers of South Korea and the United States on Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to engaging with North Korea, also vowing to work together in bringing the North back to the dialogue table.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also reaffirmed that the United States holds no hostile policy toward the North during a bilateral meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Suh Hoon, in Washington, according to the South Korean National Security Council.

"The two sides noted they have ceaselessly consulted on North Korean issues, including their diplomatic efforts at all levels to engage with North Korea, since the U.S. unveiled its North Korea policy," it said of the meeting.

"The U.S. side reaffirmed the U.S.' sincerity that it holds no hostile policy toward North Korea and also reiterated its stance that it will engage in negotiations with North Korea anytime, anywhere without preconditions. The two sides agreed to continue working closely on concrete ways to engage with North Korea," it added.

Suh arrived here Monday.

South Korea's National Security Adviser Suh Hoon (L) and his U.S. counterpart, Jake Sullivan, are seen posing for a photo during their meeting in Washington on Oct. 12, 2021 in this photo provided by the South Korean embassy in Washington. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The South Korean official's trip to the U.S. follows a flurry of events involving the reclusive North that included the reopening of direct communication channels between the divided Koreas earlier this month after a 55-day suspension.

North Korea had reopened the cross-border communication lines after a 13-month suspension in July, only to close them again after about two weeks.

Suh said the U.S. side has expressed strong support for inter-Korean dialogue, while also urging North Korea to respond positively to U.S. overtures.

"The U.S. expressed strong support for North-South Korea dialogue to make breakthroughs in the Korean Peninsula situation and the COVID-19 pandemic," he said while speaking with South Korean reporters in Washington.

"South Korea and the U.S. agreed that practical progress could be made in dealing with current conditions if North Korea engaged more actively in South-North and North-U.S. dialogue," added Suh.

Pyongyang currently remains unresponsive to U.S. overtures for dialogue.

Suh also said he explained Seoul's efforts to formally end the Korean War and to consult closely with Washington on the issue.

"Most of all, I have again confirmed that the U.S. government, too, is greatly interested and determined to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula," he said.

Seoul's ongoing efforts to declare a formal end to the 1950-53 war follow President Moon Jae-in's proposal at the United Nations General Assembly last month that such a move may help kickstart the North's denuclearization process.

Suh's visit here also comes amid North Korea's renewed rhetoric that Washington has a hostile intention toward Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Monday (Seoul time) called for efforts to bolster the North's military capabilities, arguing North Korea continues to face military threats from hostile forces.

Suh and Sullivan agreed the U.S.-South Korea alliance is now in its best conditions, further enhanced by a summit between their leaders in Washington in May.

"The two sides ... noted follow-up measures are steadily being taken in various areas such as vaccine cooperation, climate change, new technology and semiconductor supply chain since the countries agreed to develop the South Korea-U.S. alliance into a "comprehensive partnership toward future" in the May summit meeting," South Korea's National Security Council said in a press release.

"The sides also noted their discussions this time have contributed to the strengthening of cooperation between the two countries on the development of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, the Korean Peninsula denuclearization issue and other global issues, and agreed to continue their communication at all levels," it added.


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