US prepared to work with N. Korea on humanitarian concerns, special envoy says

한겨레 입력 2021. 9. 15. 18:56
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At trilateral talks held in Japan, the US Special Representative for North Korea said that the US harbors "no hostile intent towards DPRK" and is "open to meeting with them without preconditions"
Sung Kim, US special representative for North Korea (left); Takehiro Funakoshi, director-general of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau (center); and Noh Kyu-duk, special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs (right) discuss cooperation on the North Korean nuclear issue on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)

South Korea and the US made some progress Tuesday in discussions toward joint humanitarian cooperation efforts in North Korea, while also talking about approaches for building trust with Pyongyang.

The response, which came the day after North Korea announced the test-firing of long-range cruise missiles, was seen as reflecting both sides’ commitment to keeping the Korean Peninsula situation on a stable footing.

Meeting with reporters that morning after a meeting of the South Korea-US senior representatives on the North Korean nuclear issue in Tokyo, US Special Representative for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Sung Kim said, “We are prepared to work cooperatively with the DPRK to address areas of humanitarian concerns regardless of progress on denuclearization.”

“The United States supports the provision of humanitarian aid, consistent with international standards for access and monitoring to the most vulnerable North Koreans,” he added.

Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, said, “In connection with joint South Korea-US humanitarian cooperation efforts concerning North Korea, South Korea and the US have made considerable progress through recent discussions.”

“South Korea and the US intend to make preparations to cooperate with North Korea as soon as North Korea agrees to it,” he said.

Kim indicated that the US would support “certain” inter-Korean humanitarian cooperation projects. He also drew notice by saying the US was open to exploring meaningful measures to build trust with Pyongyang.

After his opening remarks at a trilateral meeting of the South Korean, US, and Japanese senior representatives on the North Korean nuclear issue held that morning, Kim called on North Korea to resume dialogue.

“We [the US] harbor no hostile intent towards DPRK, and we're open to meeting with them without preconditions,” he said.

But he also reiterated Washington’s plans to continue thoroughly implementing UN Security Council sanctions resolutions until Pyongyang responds favorably. The trilateral meeting that day was attended by Noh, Kim, and Takehiro Funakoshi, director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Noh also said that South Korea and the US had “agreed on the urgency of dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue in light of recent circumstances” — an apparent reference to North Korea’s test-firing of cruise missiles.

A senior South Korean government official said, “Several concerns were raised in connection with the recent North Korean report.”

The official also said the three sides had “proposed ensuring their effective coordination of a reaction or response [to North Korea’s activities] within a suitable framework.”

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

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