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Sunday 20 May 2018

Donald Trump: talks with North Korea only ‘under right conditions’

A North Korean envoy sent a message through South Korea on Sunday.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

By Darlene Superville

Donald Trump has responded to an overture from North Korea for talks with the US, saying that will happen only “under the right conditions”.

The US president raised North Korea at an annual White House meeting with the nation’s governors after a North Korean envoy sent a message through South Korea on Sunday.

The envoy said the North has “ample intentions” of holding talks with the US.

The White House said in response that it would take a wait-and-see approach, and Mr Trump followed up on Monday.

“We want to talk only under the right conditions,” he said.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in with Ivanka Trump (AP/Kim Min-Hee)

The administration’s position is that Pyongyang must get rid of its nuclear and missile programmes before any talks can take place.

The US has applied a series of sanctions, including a fresh round on Friday, in what it says is a “maximum pressure campaign” to force North Korea to disarm.

The Trump administration says it is open to talks with North Korea, primarily to explain how America will maintain its pressure on the country until it takes steps to eliminate its nuclear weapons.

US officials differentiate talks from negotiations. For those to occur, they first want Pyongyang to accept that its nuclear programme will be on the table.

Speaking to the governors, Mr Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for bolstering his country’s sanctions against the North and warned that Russia is “behaving badly” on the issue of sanctions.

“Russia is sending in what China is taking out,” Mr Trump said.

During Sunday’s closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics, the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced that a North Korean delegate to the Olympics said his country is willing to hold talks with the US.

The move came after decades of tension between the two countries, which have no formal diplomatic relations, and a year of escalating rhetoric, including threats of war, between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The North has “ample intentions of holding talks with the United States”, Mr Moon’s office said.

The North’s delegation also agreed that “South-North relations and US-North Korean relations should be improved together”, the statement said.

Press Association

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