South, U.S. security advisers reiterate willingness for talks with North

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South, U.S. security advisers reiterate willingness for talks with North

Suh Hoon, South Korea's national security adviser, left, shakes hands with his U.S. counterpart, Jake Sullivan, ahead of bilateral talks in Washington on Tuesday. [KOREAN EMBASSY TO THE UNITED STATES]

Suh Hoon, South Korea's national security adviser, left, shakes hands with his U.S. counterpart, Jake Sullivan, ahead of bilateral talks in Washington on Tuesday. [KOREAN EMBASSY TO THE UNITED STATES]

 
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stressed that Washington holds “no hostile policy” towards North Korea and reiterated Washington’s stance that it is always ready to engage in negotiations with Pyongyang, in talks with his South Korean counterpart Tuesday.
 
Suh Hoon, director of the Blue House National Security Office, in bilateral talks with Sullivan in Washington confirmed the U.S. stance that it is ready to engage in negotiations with North Korea “anytime, anywhere without preconditions,” according to Seoul’s National Security Council (NSC).
 
The two sides agreed to continue working closely on concrete ways to engage with North Korea and bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table, following an impasse in denuclearization negotiations since 2019.  
 
Suh told reporters after the talks with Sullivan that the United States “expressed strong support for inter-Korean dialogue to make a breakthrough in the Korean Peninsula situation and Covid-19 pandemic.”
 
The two sides also agreed that “practical progress” could be made if they could get Pyongyang to engage “more actively” in inter-Korean and North-U.S. dialogue.  
 
Suh said that they “shared the view that diplomacy and dialogue with North Korea are very important for the reduction of security threats on the Korean Peninsula, economic stability and denuclearization.”
 
Pyongyang officials have indicated openness to improving inter-Korean relations in recent weeks, on the condition that the South withdraws what it claims to be its “hostile” policies toward the North, likely in reference to sanctions and joint military drills with the United States.  
 
While Pyongyang last month restored inter-Korean hotlines, seen as a step toward improving relations with Seoul, it has so far remained mum to Washington’s offer of dialogue.  
 
President Moon Jae-in, speaking to the United Nations General Assembly last month, proposed that the two Koreas, the United States, and possibly China, formally declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War which ended with an armistice agreement. The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war.
 
Suh confirmed Tuesday that he had explained to Sullivan Seoul’s efforts toward an end-of-war declaration and intentions to closely consult with Washington on the issue. The United States does not appear to have given a concrete answer on the issue.  
 
However, Suh did say he “confirmed that the U.S. government is also greatly interested in and determined to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.”  
 
Such coordination leaves open the possibility for future humanitarian support for North Korea, such as coronavirus vaccine supplies, which may allow for an atmosphere more conducive toward dialogue.  
 
The White House NSC said that Suh and Sullivan “held detailed discussions on the current security situation in the region and called on the DPRK to enter into serious and sustained diplomacy towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," referring to the acronym for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  
 
Sullivan stressed the need for North Korea “to refrain from escalatory actions” but “reaffirmed U.S. support for inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation,” said NSC spokesperson Emily Horne in a statement.  
 
North Korea conducted a series of missile launches in recent weeks, including a newly developed hypersonic weapon in late September.  
 
The advisers “both emphasized the important role of the U.S.-ROK [Republic of Korea] alliance as the linchpin of peace, prosperity and security in northeast Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific,” Horne added.
 
They further “acknowledged the important steps taken to broaden and expand” the South Korea-U.S. relationship following President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Washington in May for a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden, and “committed to deepening cooperation in critical areas such as advanced technology, secure and trustworthy 5G, resilient supply chains, and global health.”
 
The remark on 5G networks and supply chains come amid intensifying rivalry between the United States and China in technology and security matters.  
 
Seoul’s NSC also said that the two sides are working on follow-up measures since the Moon-Biden summit on cooperation in areas including vaccines, climate change, new technology and semiconductor supply chain.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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