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North Korea ridicules U.S. talks hopes as allies rethink approach

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Noh Kyu-duk (R), South Korea’s Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, chats with Sung Kim (L), U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, during their bilateral meeting at a hotel in Seoul, South Korea on June 21, 2021. Jung Yeon-Je / Pool via REUTERS

SEOUL, June 22 (Reuters) – A senior North Korean official ridiculed U.S. hopes for talks on Tuesday, as the United States and South Korea agreed to consider removing a controversial task force created to coordinate their policy towards Pyongyang.

Kim Yo Jong, a senior ruling party official and sister of leader Kim Jong Un, released a statement to state media on Tuesday saying the United States appears to be interpreting the signals from Pyongyang in a way that would lead to disappointment .

She was responding to US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who said on Sunday he saw an “interesting signal” a recent speech by Kim Jong Un on preparing for both confrontation and diplomacy with the United States. United. Read more

“It appears that the United States may interpret the situation in such a way as to seek solace for itself,” she said in a statement released by KCNA. “The wait, which they have chosen to feed back, would plunge them into greater disappointment.”

Kim’s statement came during a visit to Seoul by recently appointed U.S. Special Representative to North Korea Sung Kim, who was scheduled to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Unification Minister Lee In on Tuesday. -young, who manages relations with the North. .

On Monday, Sung Kim said he was ready to meet the North Koreans “anywhere, anytime without preconditions” and looked forward to a “positive response soon”. Read more

During talks between Kim and his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk, the two agreed to “consider ending the task force” while strengthening coordination at other levels, the South Ministry said. Korean Foreign Minister in a statement.

The task force was established in 2018 to help the two allies coordinate their approaches on issues such as denuclearization talks, humanitarian assistance, sanctions enforcement and inter-Korean relations amid a wave diplomatic engagements with North Korea at the time.

Asked last year about Seoul’s proposals such as reopening individual tourism to its northern neighbor, then-US Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris said that “in order to avoid a more misunderstanding later that might trigger sanctions … better run this through the task force.

Although Harris added that it was not for the United States to approve South Korean decisions, the remarks sparked controversy in Seoul and a former aide to South Korean President Moon Jae-in later said in Parliament that the task force was increasingly seen as an obstacle to interdependence. Korean relations.

The Moon administration would view the end of the task force as a goodwill gesture on the part of new US President Joe Biden, said Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a Korean expert at King’s College London.

“From a South Korean perspective, this was basically a mechanism for the United States to block inter-Korean projects during the Trump years,” he said. “It would be a smart political move for the Biden administration to end the group, since the consultation between Washington and Seoul will take place anyway.”

Reporting by Josh Smith; Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Michael Perry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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