Washington is ready to restart long-awaited working-level nuclear negotiations with North Korea, Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, said on Wednesday, August 21st, according to AFP.
"We are prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our counterparts in North Korea," stated Biegun, after his meeting with South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon in Seoul.
After a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February ended without any agreement over differences on the extent of denuclearisation and a sanctions relief in return, nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang collapsed.
However, anticipation for renewed dialogue has been on the rise after the US and its security ally South Korea wrapped up their two-week joint military drill on Tuesday, August 20th. There is speculation that the meeting could take place at the demilitarised zone dividing the North and South to kick start working-level talks during Biegun's three-day stay in Seoul,
Pyongyang considers the joint military exercise by the allies a rehearsal for invasion and has routinely expressed anger at the war games.
Washington stations nearly 30,000 troops in the South to defend it from its neighbour.
US envoy Biegun, who will soon take up a diplomatic posting in Russia, said that he remained "focused on making progress" with North Koreans and is "fully committed" to the goal of the denuclearisation in the North.
Last month, President Trump tweeted that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his hope, in a letter hand-delivered to him, for resuming dialogue "as soon as the joint US/South Korea joint exercise are over".