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US envoy Biegun, urges North Korea to restart nuclear talks

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Stephen Biegun, Envoy, North Korea
Stephen Biegun

A top US diplomat on Monday urged North Korea to return to the negotiating table to restart halted denuclearization talks as tensions between the US and Pyongyang continued to boil.

“Let me speak directly to our counterparts in North Korea: It is time for us to do our jobs. Let’s get this done. We are here. And you know how to reach us,” US envoy to North Korea Stephen Biegun said at a press conference in Seoul

“We are fully aware of the strong potential for North Korea to conduct a major provocation in the days ahead. To say the least, such an action will be most unhelpful in achieving lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

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Biegun is in South Korea to try and salvage talks between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after the dictator set an end-of-year deadline for the US to provide terms for a deal.

Tensions have risen between the two leaders over the past year after Trump cut a summit with the chairman short in February.

At the time, the US rejected North Korea’s offer to partially surrender its nuclear capabilities in exchange for the complete relief of sanctions.

Kim has since hardened his stance on his nuclear program, having his UN envoy declare during an address that denuclearization was off the table with the US earlier this month.

A foreign minister to Kim said in the days leading up to those remarks that it was “entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select,” as it attempted to ramp up pressure on the US.

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The North Korean leader has gone as far as to conduct a long-range missile test last week at a nuclear site that he had promised Trump he would shut down after their June 2018 summit in Singapore, prompting Trump to issue a terse warning.

Kim’s negotiating team has now threatened to suspend talks entirely if the White House does not offer up mutually acceptable terms for a deal before his approaching deadline.

Biegun, for his part, said Monday that US negotiators had already offered North Korea a host of options for how both sides could justify returning to the negotiating table.

“We have offered any number of creative ways to proceed with feasible steps and flexibility in our negotiations to reach, balanced agreements that meet the objectives of both sides,” he said, adding, “But the US cannot do this alone.”

Source: New York Post

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