North Korea says talks with US would lead 'nowhere'


North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon said Pyongyang is not considering even the possibility of any contact with the US. - Reuters

SEOUL (AFP): North Korea's foreign minister on Wednesday (June 23) ruled out any talks with the United States, saying dialogue with Washington would "get us nowhere".

His comments come after Sung Kim, the top US envoy in charge of North Korea negotiations, visited South Korea this week in a bid to restart diplomacy with the nuclear-armed nation.

But US hopes for a revival of talks were rebuffed by influential official Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korea's leader, saying Washington had "wrong" expectations for dialogue.

Foreign minister Ri Son Gwon said Wednesday he welcomed Kim's rejection of the "hasty judgment, conjecture and expectation of the US".

"We are 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," he was quoted as having said by the state-run KCNA news agency.

Since US President Joe Biden's election win, the two countries have adopted a wait-and-see attitude to relations -- in marked contrast to the diplomatic roller-coaster ride under Donald Trump that produced historic meetings with leader Kim Jong Un but no agreement on dismantling the North's nuclear arsenal.

The White House promised a "practical, calibrated approach" -- including diplomatic efforts -- in a recent review of its strategy to persuade the impoverished North to give up its nuclear and missile programme.

Talks between Washington and Pyongyang have long been stalled over the international sanctions imposed on the nuclear-armed state and what the North should give up in return for their lifting.

Leader Kim said last week that Pyongyang needed to prepare for both "dialogue and confrontation" with Washington -- with emphasis on the latter.

In her Tuesday statement, Kim Yo-jong derided recent comments made by US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who called her brother's remarks an "interesting signal".

Pyongyang was also reported to have admitted the country was tackling a food crisis -- sounding the alarm in a nation that has long struggled to feed itself.

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