BEIJING – North Korea on Wednesday reiterated its reluctance to hold bilateral talks with the United States, a day after Washington voiced willingness to continue to seek dialogue with Pyongyang over the Asian country’s denuclearization.
“We are not considering even the possibility of any contact with the U.S., let alone having it, which would get us nowhere, only taking up precious time,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon said in a statement carried by state-run media.
On Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told a conference call, “We remain prepared to engage in principal negotiations with the DPRK to deal with the challenge of its nuclear program.”
DPRK is the acronym of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.
The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, who took office in January, has recently expressed eagerness to restart denuclearization talks with North Korea.
But North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s younger sister and close aide, Kim Yo Jong, was quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency as saying in a statement released Tuesday that U.S. expectations for bilateral negotiations could bring “disappointment.”
At a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea held last week, Kim Jong Un pledged to prepare for both “dialogue and confrontation” with the Biden administration.
North Korea is believed to have little intention to hold bilateral talks with the United States unless Washington withdraws what Pyongyang considers its hostile policy position.
Some foreign affairs experts, however, said Kim Jong Un might be keen to resume communication to receive U.S. economic aid, with the North Korean economy languishing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
U.S.-North Korea negotiations have been stalled for around 18 months, as they have fallen short of bridging the gap between Washington’s demands and Pyongyang’s calls for sanctions relief.
The Biden administration plans to keep its North Korea policy flexible, while building on a 2018 summit agreement that included Pyongyang’s commitment toward denuclearization.
At their first summit in June 2018 in Singapore, Kim Jong Un and Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump agreed that Washington would provide security guarantees to Pyongyang in exchange for “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.