US welcomes Pyongyang-Seoul talks, with restraint

January 10
10:30 2018

Washington, Jan 10 (IANS) The US has welcomed the first talks held by North and South Korea over the past two years as a positive sign, but “did not voice full-throated support”.

The White House on Tuesday welcomed the senior-level dialogue during which the two sides agreed to hold separate military talks, Xinhua news agency reported.

The North also consented to send a delegation to the South Korea-hosted PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February.

“North Korean participation is an opportunity for the regime to see the value of ending its international isolation by denuclearising,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Tuesday.

“Clearly this is a positive development,” US State Department Spokesperson Steve Goldstein has said.

“We would like nuclear talks to occur,” said Goldstein, adding that this is “a good first step in that process”.

Over the weekend, US President Donald Trump expressed his willingness to talk with Kim Jong-un, top leader of North Korea, and supported the upcoming dialogues.

“I always believe in talking,” Trump had told reporters at Camp David when asked whether he was willing to engage in phone talks with Kim.

However, both Trump and other US officials have stopped short of considering a direct talk between the US and North Korea without any preconditions.

Trump said any talk would come with prerequisites.

Experts have urged Washington to further commit itself to the peace-making process and final denuclearization of the peninsula.

American scholar on North Korean affairs John Delury argued that actual negotiations on denuclearisation, arms control and peace mechanisms would require direct US participation.

“The sooner the Trump administration follows (South Korean President) Moon Jae-in’s lead in opening a direct channel to Pyongyang, the better,” said Delury.

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