Amid simmering tensions on the Korean Peninsula, a senior North Korean diplomat in charge of handling US relations says Pyongyang would hold talks with Washington under the right conditions.
Choe Son-hui, deputy director general of the Department of US Affairs at the North Korean Foreign Ministry, made the remarks in the Chinese capital, Beijing, on her way back home from Norway, according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.
“We’ll have dialogue if the conditions are there,” she said when asked if Pyongyang was ready to hold talks with the administration of US President Donald Trump.
According to the report, Choe was also asked if the North was prepared to talk with the newly elected South Korean government of liberal President Moon Jae-in, to which she responded, “We’ll see.”
The new South Korean president has also adopted a conciliatory approach toward the North, saying he is willing to work for peace with its neighbor.
Japanese media reported that Choe was in Norway for the so-called Track Two meeting with former US officials. It was described as the latest in a series of such meetings.
This is while a Reuters report cited a source with knowledge of the latest meeting as saying that at least one official of the ex-US government participated in the talks, which did not involve representatives from the Trump administration.
The remarks by Choe, a veteran member of North Korea’s team of nuclear negotiators, came amid tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, a close ally of Seoul. The two sides have traded a barrage of military threats in recent weeks.
Seoul and Washington have expressed concerns over Pyogyang’s missile and nuclear programs, which North Korea says serve to defend itself against US aggression.
The development comes after Trump warned last month about the possibility of a “major, major conflict” with North Korea over its weapons programs, but later reversed course, saying he would be “honored” to meet the North’s leader Kim Jong-un under the right conditions.