North: ball is in Trump’s court

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North: ball is in Trump’s court

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Choe Son-hui

A top North Korean diplomat is reported to have told her American counterparts at a meeting in Switzerland that the North will refrain from provocations until the Donald J. Trump administration’s North Korea policy is further developed.

According to Radio Free Asia on Wednesday, Choe Son-hui, director general of the U.S. Affairs Department of the North’s Foreign Ministry and a top envoy to the six-party talks, said at a meeting with her American counterparts in Geneva last month that the North “would not take action that might close the door before seeing what emerges.”

Choe reportedly told the U.S. delegation that she hopes the Trump administration will review its policy toward the North while keeping her statement in mind.

The president-elect has been appointing key aides and personnel for his cabinet in recent weeks following his election, who are to form U.S. domestic and foreign policies.

The U.S. delegation participating in the meeting, held in Geneva from Nov. 17 to 19, included former U.S. State Department officials such as Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University and founder of its Pyongyang-monitoring website, 38 North.

Also included was Robert Einhorn, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank.

The North Korean delegation consisted of Choe, Jang Il-hun, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the UN, and three more officials from its Foreign Ministry.

Yet, according to meeting records obtained by RFA, Choe reportedly said that should the South and the United States conduct a joint military drill, the North’s response will have to be “very tough.”

Seoul and Washington are scheduled to hold their annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises in February.

Choe also reportedly asked the American delegation whether the Trump administration may reduce the scale of joint military drills with the South in the future.

The North Korean delegation also showed interest in the Trump administration’s possible responses to South Korea becoming a nuclear-armed country, as well as its foreign policy plans toward Russia and China, according to the RFA.

The outlet added that Choe did not seem terribly concerned about the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system, commenting that China is more sensitive than the North when it comes to the Thaad issue.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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