WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (Yonhap) – The United States stands ready to engage with North Korea in confidence-building initiatives that may include humanitarian aid, a senior US diplomat said Thursday.
Mark Lambert, Assistant Under Secretary of State for Japan and South Korea, also reaffirmed that the United States will go “anywhere” to speak with North Korea.
“We made it very clear in Pyongyang. We will go anywhere. We will talk to North Koreans anywhere. There are no conditions. But unfortunately, they have not responded to this day.” Lambert said during a webinar hosted by the Institute for Corean-American Studies Think Tank.
“In addition, we are open to exploring meaningful confidence-building initiatives with the North,” he added.
The remark comes shortly after Pyongyang once again accused the United States of having hostile intent towards them.
Rejecting South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s recent proposal to officially declare the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, North Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ri Thae-song said the United States United should first withdraw their hostile policy towards the North.
“We have already clarified our official position that declaring the end of the war is not a ‘gift’, and it can become a piece of paper in an instant if the situation changes,” Ri said. in a statement released Friday (Seoul time) by the official North Korean Central News Agency.
“The withdrawal of the United States from its two-speed and hostile policy is an absolute priority to stabilize the situation on the Korean peninsula and ensure peace there,” he added.
Lambert said the United States would support the delivery of humanitarian aid to the North, “regardless of the progress of denuclearization.”
“We stand ready to work in cooperation with the DPRK to address humanitarian concerns. We will continue to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance, in accordance with international standards of access and surveillance, to the most vulnerable North Koreans, regardless of be the progress of denuclearization, “he said. said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Senior nuclear negotiators from South Korea and the United States earlier said the two countries could provide humanitarian assistance to the North as part of efforts to bring the impoverished nation back to the dialogue table.
North Korea has remained out of the denuclearization negotiations since early 2019.
Lambert said there could be several reasons North Koreans remain insensitive to American overtures, but stressed that they should speak to the United States first if they wish to progress.
“If North Koreans want sanctions relief, if North Koreans want a better economic future, if North Koreans want to be accepted in the international community, sit down and tell us about it,” Lambert said. .
“If we could sit down with the North and get a feel for what they want and stop guessing, I think we can make some progress,” he added.
Regarding South Korea-Japan relations, the US official in charge of the two countries at the State Department said it was in his country’s best interest to see the two US allies working closely together.
“When our two closest allies in Asia have disagreements, it makes the United States less secure – plain and simple. So it is not in our national interest that the Republic of Korea and Japan are fighting,” he said. he said of the ongoing Seoul-Tokyo feud over what many South Koreans believe to be Japan’s attempt to whitewash its war atrocities, such as sexual slavery and forced labor.
“The issues of the 20th century, especially those surrounding World War II, need to be addressed. We understand that. But we think it is very important that we also work together to solve the issues of the 21st century.”