US: Direct talks with N Korea still possible
TOKYO/UNITED NATIONS - Reuters
The United States is not ruling out the eventual possibility of direct talks with North Korea, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said on Oct. 17, hours after Pyongyang warned nuclear war might break out at any moment.
Talks between the adversaries have long been urged by China in particular, but Washington and its ally Japan have been reluctant to sit down at the table while Pyongyang continues to pursue a goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States.
"Eventually, we don't rule out the possibility of course of direct talks," Sullivan said in Tokyo after talks with his Japanese counterpart.
"Our focus is on diplomacy to solve this problem that is presented by the DPRK. We must, however, with our allies, Japan and South Korea and elsewhere, be prepared for the worst, should diplomacy fail," he said.
The DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Tension has soared following a series of weapons tests by North Korea and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Leaflets apparently from North Korea calling Trump a "mad dog" and depicting gruesome images of him have turned up across central Seoul.
"The situation on the Korean peninsula where the attention of the whole world is focused has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment," North Korea's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Kim In Ryong told a U.N. General Assembly committee on Oct. 16.
"As long as one does not take part in the U.S. military actions against the DPRK, we have no intention to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any other country," according to Kim's prepared remarks for the discussion on nuclear weapons.
South Korea and the U.S. began week-long joint Navy drills in the waters around the Korean peninsula on Oct. 16, involving about 40 ships from both militaries, including the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.
The North's state media said yesterday the allies' "desperate efforts" to block the advance of the country would only vindicate that it should continue its nuclear program "to the last."
"The DPRK has been fully ready for all the U.S. is resorting to, including sanctions, pressure and military option, as it has the tremendous nuclear force for self-defence and irresistible strength of self-reliance and self-development," the official KCNA news agency said.