North Korean diplomat speaks after Trump's remarks on possible meeting
South Korea elected a liberal this week who favors a more open policy
North Korea would hold talks with the United States “under the right conditions,” a senior North Korean diplomat said Saturday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
Choe Son Hui, director-general of the North America bureau chief of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, spoke to reporters Saturday at the Beijing Capital International Airport.
She made the remarks more than a week after President Donald Trump said he would be willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “under the right circumstances.”
Such rhetoric contrasts sharply with the tensions between the United States and North Korea.
Pyongyang has sought to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Washington has made a show of force in the region to deter their use.
The United States directed an aircraft carrier-led strike group to the region and deployed a new anti-ballistic missile system to South Korea.
North Koreans, Americans met in Oslo
Choe led a North Korean delegation that met this week in Oslo, Norway, with American academics and former government officials headed by Suzanne DiMaggio, a director and senior fellow at the New America think tank, Yonhap reported, citing South Korean diplomatic sources.
Other Americans in the group included Thomas Pickering, a former US ambassador to the United Nations and a former undersecretary of state, and Robert Einhorn, a former US special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control in the State Department.
Choe was on her way back to Pyongyang when she spoke with reporters.
North Korea experts said the Oslo meeting could provide both countries a chance to explore talks, Yonhap reported.
But the US government said it would not attach any special meaning to the “track-two” dialogue in Oslo.
“Track-two meetings are routinely held on a variety of topics around the world and occur independent of US government involvement,” a State Department official said, according to Yonhap.
South Korea’s new President
Choe was asked whether Pyongyang is preparing to hold dialogue with the government of new South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Moon, a liberal who favors a more open policy toward North Korea, won the presidential election this week.
“We will observe the situation,” Choe said.
Meanwhile, a US defense official said spy satellites are continuing to pick up signs of movement of scud missiles in North Korea that indicate preparations for a potential launch.
The movement has been noticed in the last several days. The missiles appear to be the same KN-17 scud variant that failed in recent launches.
Since the missile has failed several times earlier, the United States doesn’t consider another launch to be a crisis at this point, the official said.
CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.