South Korea will continue to work to bring North Korea back to dialogue with both Seoul and Washington, the country’s foreign minister said Thursday.
Briefing local reporters on the ministry’s plans for the rest of the year, minister Kang Kyung-wha emphasized that South Korea was working in close coordination with the U.S. regarding North Korea issues.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) plans to continue to make diplomatic efforts… for the North’s return to dialogue,” Kang said, adding that the focus will be on “preventing the worsening of situation on the Korean peninsula.”
“Especially, closely observing how the situation pans out on the Korean peninsula, [MOFA] will focus on the efforts to continue the momentum for inter-Korean and DPRK-U.S. dialogue, sustaining firm readiness position,” she continued.
Seoul also plans to push China into playing a “constructive role” in pursuing peace on the peninsula, she said.
Kang’s comments follows remarks on Tuesday from South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressing hopes for another U.S.-DPRK summit before November’s U.S. Presidential election.
But the foreign minister on Thursday rejected claims that Seoul, having failed to start independent inter-Korean exchanges, was now pushing to restart U.S.-DPRK dialogue.
Seoul’s position hasn’t changed that much, she insisted.
“It has been our basic stance that inter-Korean and DPRK-U.S. [relations] should… make a virtuous cycle, driving each other,” Kang said. “The U.S. had been continuously making its position clear that they are ready to resume DPRK-U.S. dialogue any time.”
“The U.S. has always been ready to restart dialogue with the North,” Kang said, stressing Seoul was ready to “do what we can” to facilitate that diplomacy.
Moon in a summit with EU officials earlier this week said that “efforts for dialogue between the North and the U.S. should be pushed forward once more before the U.S. Presidential election” — remarks that prompted speculation whether Seoul had discussed the issue beforehand with Washington or Pyongyang.
The leaders of North Korea and the U.S. last met at the border village of Panmunjom in June last year. Since then, the North has largely closed the door to diplomacy with the U.S., lamenting last Thursday that talks had “all ended in vain.”
And while the U.S. is yet to comment on President Moon’s remarks this week, a U.S. government source confirmed to NK News on Wednesday that two top Trump administration officials dealing with U.S.-North Korea relations will travel to Seoul next week.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, alongside National Security Council senior director for Asia Allison Hooker, will arrive in Asia on Monday, the source said.
Foreign minister Kang on Thursday declined to confirm reports of the upcoming visit, telling journalists Seoul was “consulting with relevant countries to push forward with high-level official visits to South Korea.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
South Korea will continue to work to bring North Korea back to dialogue with both Seoul and Washington, the country's foreign minister said Thursday.
Briefing local reporters on the ministry's plans for the rest of the year, minister Kang Kyung-wha emphasized that South Korea was working in close coordination with the U.S. regarding North Korea issues.