Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘US ready to engage with North Korea in nuclear talks’

‘US ready to engage with North Korea in nuclear talks’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon during their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, August 21, 2019. AFP

‘US ready to engage with North Korea in nuclear talks’

The US is ready to sit down with North Korea to resume long-awaited working-level nuclear talks, a US envoy said on Wednesday.

Nuclear discussions between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since a second summit in Hanoi in February ended without an agreement over differences on the extent of denuclearisation and sanctions relief in return.

But 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.

“We are prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our counterparts in North Korea,” said Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, after his meeting with South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon in Seoul.

The comments come amid speculation that Americans could meet with North Koreans at the demilitarised zone dividing the North and South to kick start working-level talks during Biegun’s three-day stay in Seoul, which began Tuesday.

The US envoy denied media reports he would soon take a diplomatic posting in Russia, saying he remained “focused on making progress” with North Koreans and “fully committed” to the goal of the denuclearisation in the North.

Pyongyang considers the joint military exercise by the allies a rehearsal for invasion and has routinely expressed anger at the war games.

The drills are a “grave military provocation” and a “challenge to and mockery of our efforts for peace”, the North’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary.

The piece also said that the North’s own “measures for bolstering up military capability for self-defence” are consequently “very just ones”, in reference to a slew of missile launches in recent weeks.

It said the drills are an “open disregard and wanton violation” of the joint statement adopted in the first US-North Korea summit in Singapore last year, in which US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to pursue new US-North Korea relations for “peace and prosperity”.

North Korea last week called South Korean President Moon Jae-in an “impudent guy rare to be found” for hoping to resume inter-Korean talks while continuing military drills with the US.

Trump tweeted earlier this month North Korean leader Kim 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”.


  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian