September 19, 2019
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US says it is ready to resume talks with North Korea

Seoul, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- The United States' representative for North Korea said in Seoul on Wednesday that his team is ready to resume negotiations on denuclearization with Pyongyang.

"We are prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our counterparts in North Korea," Stephen Biegun said after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon.

The special representative also dismissed rumors about his possible appointment as ambassador to Russia and said he “will not be taking up a diplomatic posting in the Russia federation" but "remain focused on making progress on North Korea."

"I am fully committed to this important mission. We will get this done," Biegun said, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Biegun's meeting with Lee was the first item on the agenda of his three-day visit to Seoul, which also includes meetings with Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul and other top officials to coordinate positions on the progress of negotiations once they are resumed.

His visit, which will end on Thursday, coincides with the end of the joint military exercises between the South Korean and US armies, which the North views as a rehearsal for invasion.

Since July 25, the North Korean regime has launched six rounds of short-range projectiles and has accused Seoul and Washington of not committing to the pact agreed in the bilateral summits.

Pyongyang also threatened to stall further denuclearization talks over the joint US-South Korea military exercises.

Despite the rise in tensions across the Korean Peninsula, leader Kim Jong-un had expressed his willingness to resume the talks at the end of the joint exercises in a letter to his US counterpart earlier this month, US President Donald Trump said in a tweet, which has raised expectations that dialog will be resumed.

Coinciding with Biegun's visit to Seoul, North Korea published a message in its official Rodong Sinmum newspaper on Wednesday criticizing the US and holding it responsible for escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula while also questioning its diplomatic will.

The regime said that the US' “unchanged hostile policy" is forcing North Korea to take "self-defense countermeasures" to eliminate threats.

The document, however, states that the country's stance is to "oppose confrontations of power and push for improving bilateral relations with the US and building lasting and solid peace on the Korean Peninsula through talks and negotiations," leaving the door open to dialog. EFE-EPA

co-mra/pd/tw

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