Amid a severe standoff in negotiations, the US special envoy to North Korea expressed that the country must stop blocking nuclear talks with the United States before it is too late, AFP reported on Saturday, September 7th.
In a statement given by Stephen Biegun on Friday at the University of Michigan, he said that if the negotiations are to succeed, North Korea must set aside its search for obstacles and instead seek the opportunities for engagement while that opportunity lasts.
The two countries are said to have begun a historic dialogue after President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a summit in Singapore in June 2018.
This comes after the second summit in Hanoi that took place last February collapsed without an agreement. The pair met again in June in the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea and agreed to restart working-level dialogue, but those talks have yet to begin.
Meanwhile, US officials have condemned North Korea as it has carried out a series of tests of short-range missiles in the recent weeks, calling these launches provocations, although Trump himself has avoided criticizing them. North Korean officials have also criticized the US position that sanctions against North Korea will not be lifted until the country gives up its nuclear weapons.
In his speech, Biegun expressed that the US has made it clear to North Korea that they are prepared to engage as soon as they hear from them, adding that the US government is ready, but they have to make sure that North Korea is rightfully on board and that an intensive set of negotiations should bet set in motion.
He also raised the prospect of "immediate actions" that might be taken if the nuclear talks make progress in moving away from hostility and distrust, highlighting that both sides can quickly agree to significant actions that will declare to the world that US-North Korea relations have taken an irreversible turn away from conflict.
He then once again criticized the idea of a phased approach as advocated by some experts and sought by North Korea, which wants Washington to ease sanctions in exchange for the North taking steps toward denuclearisation.