North Korea willing to restart talks with US this month

After failed summit and stalled talks, Pyongyang said it is willing to reopen discussions if US has new proposals.

    The two leaders last had an impromptu meeting at the DMZ in June this year [Reuters]
    The two leaders last had an impromptu meeting at the DMZ in June this year [Reuters]

    North Korea is willing to restart talks with the United States in late September, potentially ending months of deadlock between the two countries, a senior Pyongyang official has said.

    In a statement carried by North Korea's official KCNA news agency on Monday, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said Pyongyang was open to having "comprehensive discussions" with the US at a time and place agreed by both sides.

    However, the diplomat said, Washington must come to the table with new proposals that satisfy Pyongyang.

    "I want to believe that the US side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides' interests and is acceptable to us," Choe said.

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    "If the US side toys with an old scenario that has nothing to do with the new method at working-level talks which would be held after difficulties, a deal between the two sides may come to an end," she added. 

    When asked about the comments by reporters, US President Donald Trump said talks were always a good thing.

    "We'll see what happens," he said.

    A US State Department spokesperson said there were not any "meetings to announce at this time". 

    On Sunday, during an interview with ABC’s This Week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was "hopeful that in the coming days, or perhaps weeks, we'll be back at the negotiating table with them. That's the best outcome".

    Negotiations have stalled for months following a failed summit in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, in February, the second between Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un in less than a year.

    The leaders first met at a historic summit in Singapore in July 2018 to discuss denuclearisation, which North Korea has indicated it would agree to in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions.

    Kim's hardline stance that his country would only denuclearise if the US completely lifted sanctions scuttled the Hanoi summit, according to the US officials. North Korea has denied that claim. 

    Following Hanoi, Kim set a year-end deadline for the US to show more flexibility for the talks to resume. 

    Stalled negotiations

    Official discourse between the US and North Korea has been scarce since.

    In June, a surprise meeting between Trump and Kim at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that separates the Koreas appeared to set up the potential for a third summit, with both parties saying they had agreed to further working-level talks.

    However, the positive words have yielded little in the way of tangible progress. There have been no known meetings between the countries since. 

    Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korean national security adviser, told Al Jazeera last week that while both sides appear to be open to a third summit, it appears they have, in recent months, been more concerned with posturing in the hopes of "increasing their bargaining power and securing more bargaining chips".

    If a third summit were to happen, its success would hinge on diplomats laying the proper groundwork in working-level talks beforehand, according to analysts. 

    "It's hard to see a third summit taking place without the two sides first settling on at least some of the issues of significance via working-level meetings," Soojin Park, a former deputy spokesperson at the Korean unification ministry, also told Al Jazeera last week. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies