North Korea’s ambassador to the UN says his country would consider normalizing relations with the United States in case President-elect Donald Trump orders the withdrawal of military forces and anti-ballistic missile systems from the South, and guarantees a peace treaty aimed at ending tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
“If he (Trump) really gives up the hostile policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), withdrawing all the military equipment from South Korea, including the US troops and coming to conclude the peace treaty, then I think it might be an opportunity to discuss the relations as we did in the 1990s,” So Se Pyong said in an interview with Reuters in Geneva on Thursday.
He, however, made it clear that Pyongyang would pursue the “simultaneous development” of its nuclear program and economy for the time being.
So was commenting on Trump’s earlier remarks in May that he was ready for face-to-face negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a bid to end the East Asian country’s nuclear activities. The Republican presidential winner had also urged China to bring its ally under greater control.
“The meeting is up to the decision of my supreme leader,” the North Korean diplomat said in reaction to Trump’s willingness.
So also described the recent discussions in Geneva between North Korean officials on one side, and US academics and former statesmen on the other as “unofficial and informal.”
“The (DPRK) delegation is here now. But as you know, it is a ‘Track 2’,” he said, noting that North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator Choe Son-hui leads the four-pronged team.
So also condemned the administration of outgoing US President Barack Obama for its lack of interest to engage North Korea, stating that such an approach prompted Pyongyang to develop its nuclear program and “lighten the weapon warheads.”
North Korea has conducted a series of military technology tests this year, including a fourth nuclear test in January, to counter what it describes as joint US and South Korean “provocations” in the region.
The US is a close ally of South Korea and the two countries hold joint military exercises every year.
There are about 28,500 US troops based in South Korea. The US military has also deployed the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile systems in defiance of strong opposition from North Korea and China.