Diplomatic route open to N. Korea if it wants to engage: US

LONDON • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that North Korea needed to decide whether it wanted to engage diplomatically to see if there were ways to achieve the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to surrender its nuclear weapons programme have been stalled since a series of summits between President Joe Biden's predecessor Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to yield a deal.

"I hope that North Korea will take the opportunity to engage diplomatically, and to see if there are ways to move forward towards the objective of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," Mr Blinken said at a news conference in London on Monday.

"And so we'll look to see not only what North Korea says, but also what it actually does," he said. "It is, I think, up to North Korea to decide whether it wants to engage or not on that basis."

Mr Blinken's comments came a day after North Korea lashed out at the United States in a series of statements saying recent comments from Washington were proof of a hostile policy that required a corresponding response.

The White House last Friday said it had completed a months-long review of North Korean policy in which complete denuclearisation of the country remained the goal. It said it would explore diplomacy to that end, but not seek a grand bargain with Mr Kim.

North Korea wants the US and its allies to lift economic sanctions imposed over its weapons programmes.

China's United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun said on Monday that he hopes the US review of North Korea policy places more emphasis on dialogue, instead of pressure.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2021, with the headline 'Diplomatic route open to N. Korea if it wants to engage: US'. Subscribe