Tokyo, Seoul, Washington renew Pyongyang dialog invitation

Tokyo, Jul 21 (EFE).- The vice foreign ministers of Japan, South Korea and the United States on Wednesday renewed their invitations to North Korea to resume denuclearization dialog, which has been stalled since 2019 and showing little sign of progress during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The United States has made it clear that we are ready to engage with North Korea. They know that. We hope they’ll respond positively,” US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said during a joint press conference after trilateral talks with South Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jong-kun and Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeo Mori.

“But as my colleagues have said, we must exercise some patience. Perhaps not too much, but some,” she added, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Sherman acknowledged that North Korea is also struggling with sanctions and the pandemic that commands the focus of the regime, which keeps its borders closed to prevent the entry of the virus.

“But we do hope that they understand that a brighter future for their country comes from engaging in these discussions around denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” she added.

Despite the offer made by the administration of US President Joe Biden to resume dialog “anywhere, anytime without preconditions,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon said last month that his country is “not considering even the possibility of any contact with the US, let alone having it, which would get us nowhere, only taking up precious time.”

His words further clouded the possibility of resuming talks that remain stalled since the failure of the 2019 Hanoi summit.

Sherman also stressed the “critical” importance of trilateral cooperation among the US, Japan and South Korea to achieve Pyongyang’s disarmament.

Her visit to the region comes at a time when relations between Tokyo and Seoul are at their lowest point in decades.

Since 2018, Tokyo has protested South Korean court rulings in favor of Koreans who were enslaved by Japanese companies during the colonization of the peninsula (1910-1945).

This week, Seoul rejected the possibility of South Korean President Moon Jae-in attending the Olympic Games in Tokyo and holding what would have been his first summit with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, due to insufficient progress between the neighbors.

In that sense, Vice Minister Choi said that Seoul and Tokyo have agreed to continue working to resolve their differences based on the progress made in the last bilateral working meetings.

Sherman also said that the meeting discussed China’s assertiveness in the region, highlighting the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. EFE


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