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U.S. closely engaged with allies, partners to denuclearize Korean Peninsula: State Dept.

All News 06:12 February 04, 2022

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- The United States remains closely engaged with its allies and partners in efforts to completely denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, a state department spokesperson said Thursday as the U.N. Security Council was set to hold a closed session to discuss North Korea's recent missile tests.

Ned Price insisted diplomacy, not only with North Korea but with U.S. allies and partners, was one of the most important tools to denuclearize the peninsula.

"We are continuing and we have continued to be in touch with our allies and partners, as well as the U.N., on further steps that can be taken," the spokesperson said when asked what steps the U.S. had available to stop North Korea from conducting additional missile tests.

Department of State Press Secretary Ned Price is seen answering a question in a daily press briefing at the state department in Washington on Feb. 3, 2022 in this image captured from the department's website. (Yonhap)

Department of State Press Secretary Ned Price is seen answering a question in a daily press briefing at the state department in Washington on Feb. 3, 2022 in this image captured from the department's website. (Yonhap)

Pyongyang has so far staged seven rounds of missile launches since the start of the year, with its latest missile test that took place on Sunday (Seoul time) involving an intermediate range ballistic missile.

Price earlier said the U.S. had a "number of tools" in its arsenal to hold North Korea accountable for its missile launches that have been condemned as serious violations of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The U.S. had sought to impose additional U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea, but failed due to apparent opposition from China and Russia, North Korea's closest allies and neighbors.

Washington has instead imposed unilateral sanctions on eight individuals and entities, including six North Koreans based in China and Russia, that it suspects are linked to the illegal procurement of materials for the North's missile program.

The U.S. again called for a U.N. Security Council meeting after the North fired a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile this week.

The meeting was set to be held in New York on the day. The North has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing since late 2017.

"But all the while, another important tool is our diplomatic efforts. And right now, even as we have made clear we have no hostile intent, we are open to diplomacy, we have not yet received an affirmative response from the DPRK," said Price, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The North has stayed away from denuclearization talks since late 2019.

"But that has not stopped us from continuing to coordinate closely with the ROK, with Japan, with other partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific and beyond to find ways to promote our objective of the complete denuclearization of the of the Korean Peninsula," he added. ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the North's recent missile launches in a telephone conversation with his Japanese counterpart this week, while Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Sung Kim have also denounced the North Korean missile tests in their own bilateral or trilateral discussions with their Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

Price said additional discussions between U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials in the near future were "very possible" when asked.

He said the North's nuclear weapons program posed "a threat to international peace and security and its provocations are broadly destabilizing. And so we know that countries around the world share our concern."

"But we're continuing to engage day in, day out with allies, with partners, with a broad coalition of countries in an effort to promote our overriding objective and that's the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he added.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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