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US: Ready to Resume NKorea Nuke Talks  08/21 06:16

   The United States is ready to restart nuclear negotiations with North Korea, 
a senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday, a day after U.S. and South Korean 
militaries ended their regular drills that North Korea calls an invasion 
rehearsal.

   SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The United States is ready to restart nuclear 
negotiations with North Korea, a senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday, a day 
after U.S. and South Korean militaries ended their regular drills that North 
Korea calls an invasion rehearsal.

   During the 10-day U.S.-South Korean training, largely computer-simulated war 
games, North Korea raised tensions with its own missile and other weapons 
tests. But North Korea's typical harsh rhetoric over the drills focused on 
South Korea, not the United States, in a suggestion that it's still interested 
in resuming nuclear talks with the U.S.

   President Donald Trump said recently he received a "beautiful" three-page 
letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump said Kim wanted to meet 
again to restart the talks after the U.S.-South Korean drills ended and that 
Kim offered him "a small apology" over the weapons tests.

   On Wednesday, Trump's top envoy on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, told 
reporters in Seoul that "we are prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our 
counterparts in North Korea."

   Biegun said that Trump assigned his team to restart working-level talks with 
North Korea, in line with what Trump and Kim agreed during their third summit 
in late June. "I am fully committed to this important mission and we will get 
this done," Beigun said.

   Beigun also denied media speculation that he may be appointed as the new 
U.S. ambassador in Russia. "I will remain focused on making progress on North 
Korea," he said.

   Beigun was in Seoul for talks with South Korea. His South Korean counterpart 
Lee Do-hoon said the two discussed how to quickly resume the nuclear 
negotiations and produce "substantial progress."

   U.S.-led diplomacy on how to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons 
collapsed after Trump rejected Kim's demand for sweeping sanctions relief in 
return for partial disarmament steps during their second summit in Vietnam in 
February. During their third meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom 
on June 30, the two leaders agreed to restart the talks but there has been no 
public meeting between the countries.

   Many experts say North Korea's recent weapons tests were mainly aimed at 
applying pressure on the United States ahead of a possible resumption of talks, 
while registering its protest against the military drills. Most of the weapons 
tested were short-range missiles and rockets that experts said could target 
South Korea, not the mainland U.S.


(KR)

 
 
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