For the first time since the June 30 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald J. Trump at the inter-Korean Demilitarized Zone, a senior Pyongyang official said that working-level talks might resume soon.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said on Monday that Pyongyang would consider a return to talks with the United States later this month. When Trump and Kim met in June, one of the apparent outcomes of their meeting was an agreement to resume working-level talks.
“We have willingness to sit with the U.S. side for comprehensive discussions of the issues we have so far taken up at the time and place to be agreed late in September,” Choe said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s external facing state media.
Kim Jong Un “clarified his stand at the historic Policy Speech in April that it is essential for the U.S. to quit its current calculation method and approach us with new one and we will wait for a bold decision from the U.S. with patience till the end of this year.” Choe was referring to one of Kim’s first public addresses after the late-February Hanoi summit with Trump, where no deal was reached amid disagreements over sanctions relief.
“I think the U.S. has since had enough time to find the calculation method that it can share with us.” In his April speech, Kim said that North Korea may change its approach if the U.S. doesn’t change policy by the end of the year.
Choe’s statement follows a flurry of North Korean short-range ballistic missile testing that began in July and ran through the month of August. The North Korean launches took place before, during, and after the late-summer U.S.-South Korea military exercises. In July, North Korean state media said that the continuation of exercises were an apparent violation of a pledge that Trump had given Kim at the June 30 summit.
In the meantime, inter-Korean diplomacy has come largely to a standstill. With just days to go before the one-year anniversary of the inter-Korean Pyongyang Declaration and Comprehensive Military Agreement, Pyongyang and Seoul have had no high-level diplomatic contact. North Korea has been critical of South Korea for receiving advanced military assets like the F-35A, as well.
Choe’s statement coincides with North Korea’s September 9 Foundation Day. It also comes just days after U.S. Special Representative on North Korea Stephen E. Biegun delivered an address calling on the two sides to “work together to overcome the policies and demonstrations of hostility that compromise the simple ability of our diplomats to talk, and to sustain the rhythm of negotiations.”