North warns about nuke window narrowing

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North warns about nuke window narrowing

South Korea’s top nuclear envoy met with the U.S. special envoy for North Korea in Moscow on Saturday, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said, as Pyongyang warned of a closing window of opportunity on a nuclear deal.

Lee Do-hoon held a breakfast meeting with Mark Lambert, and the two discussed how to deal with North Korea following last month’s collapse of working-level talks between North Korea and the United States, the Foreign Ministry said without elaborating.

The talks in Stockholm - the first since the collapse of February’s summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un - ended without any agreement due to gaps between the two sides over the extent of Pyongyang’s denuclearization and Washington’s sanctions relief.

North Korea has stepped up pressure on the United States to meet a year-end deadline it has set for Washington to come up with a new proposal on how to exchange denuclearization measures and sanctions relief.

On Friday, Jo Chol-su, director-general of the North American department at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, urged the United States to make a forward-looking decision by the end of the year.

“We have given a considerable amount of time to the United States, and we will wait for some results until the end of this year,” Jo said in an answer to a participant’s question during a session of the 2019 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference.

“Though we expect everything to go in a positive direction, I want to say that the window for opportunity is closing bit by bit every day,” he added.

The three-day conference brought together 300 experts and officials from around 40 countries to discuss nuclear nonproliferation and arms control, according to the organizer, Russia’s Center for Energy and Security Studies.

Lee and Lambert exchanged brief greetings with Jo on Friday. At a forum reception on Thursday, Lambert and Jo had a five-minute talk. No details were immediately available.

Also Friday, Lee held talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, and the two shared the view that North Korea and the United States need to maintain the dialogue momentum, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said.

Morgulov reportedly had a separate meeting with Jo, though no details were immediately available.

Lambert also met with Morgulov and Russian Ambassador-at-Large Oleg Burmistrov in Moscow on Friday to discuss continued U.S.-Russia cooperation on North Korea.

“The conversation was candid and constructive, and Special Envoy Lambert emphasized the importance of continued close coordination with Russia on North Korea,” the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said in a statement posted on its website.

On Friday, Lee Moon-hee, director-general for North Korean nuclear affairs at the South Korean Foreign Ministry, held two separate meetings with Burmistrov and Masami Tamura, deputy director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau at Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

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