A senior North Korean diplomat who handles relations with the United States said Saturday that Pyongyang would hold talks with Washington under the "right conditions," South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
Choe Son-hui, director-general of the North America affairs bureau of the North Korean foreign ministry, told reporters at the Beijing Capital International Airport that North Korea "will hold dialogue under right conditions" with the new U.S. administration.
The two countries have not held formal, face-to-face talks since 2008 when international efforts to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program collapsed.
In an interview in April with Reuters, President Trump warned that a “major, major conflict” with North Korea was possible, but said he would prefer a diplomatic resolution to the issue of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
The president also told Bloomberg News recently that he would meet North Korean president Kim Jong Un "under the right circumstances."
"If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it," Trump said in the interview.
Choe confirmed she was returning to Pyongyang from unofficial, informal "Track Two talks" in Oslo with a group of U.S. experts, former diplomats and scholars. The meetings are held periodically to discuss a range of nuclear, security and bilateral issues.
The Oslo group included Thomas Pickering, former U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs and ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Einhorn, former U.S. special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, and Suzanne DiMaggio, a director and senior fellow at the U.S. think tank New America, according to media reports.
Asked by reporters what she discussed with the former U.S. envoy to the U.N., Choe replied, "I met with Pickering and I will discuss it when given the opportunity in the future."
When asked if North Korea was also preparing to talk with the new South Korean government of liberal President Moon Jae-in, Choe said: “We’ll see.”
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