U.S. urges North Korea to join direct talks after missile test

  • World
  • Monday, 31 Jan 2022

FILE PHOTO: Residents hold US and North Korean flags while they wait for motorcade of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un en route to the Metropole Hotel for the second US- North Korea summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Kham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Sunday made a direct appeal to North Korea to join direct talks with no preconditions about its nuclear and missile programs, after Pyongyang sent a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile soaring into space.

"We believe it is completely appropriate and completely correct to start having some serious discussions," a senior Biden administration official told reporters.

The United States, under President Joe Biden, has repeatedly sought talks with North Korea but has been rebuffed each time. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held three summits with Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, but the talks did not realize Kim's demand for a removal of sanctions on Pyongyang.

The official said the latest North Korean test was part of an "increasingly destabilizing" pattern and in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and therefore international law.

The official spoke after North Korea conducted its largest missile test since 2017 on Sunday. The launch was seen as a step closer to North Korea resuming long-range testing.

The official said "of course we're concerned" that Pyongyang might resume long-range testing and end its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing.

"It requires a response," he said. "You will see us taking some steps that are designed to show our commitment to our allies ... and at the same time we reiterate our call for diplomacy. We stand ready and we are very serious about trying to have discussions that address concerns on both sides."

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Steve Holland; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Sandra Maler)

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