North Korea and the U.S. have agreed to resume nuclear negotiations on October 5 following a months-long stalemate over withdrawal of sanctions in exchange for disarmament, a senior North Korean diplomat said Tuesday.
Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, said the two nations will have preliminary contact on October 4 before holding working-level talks on October 5.
In a statement released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, Ms. Choe expressed optimism over the outcome of the meeting but did not say where it would take place.
“It is my expectation that the working-level negotiations would accelerate the positive development of the DPRK-U.S. relations,” Ms. Choe said in the statement, using an abbreviation for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Nuclear negotiations have been at a standstill for months following a February summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump in Vietnam. Those talks broke down after the U.S. side rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for partially surrendering its nuclear capabilities.
North Korea followed the summit with belligerent rhetoric and a slew of short-range weapons tests that were widely seen as an attempt to gain leverage ahead of a possible resumption of negotiations.
Mr. Choe’s announcement came after North Korea praised Mr. Trump last month for suggesting that Washington may pursue an unspecified “new method” in nuclear negotiations with the North. North Korea also has welcomed Mr. Trump’s decision to fire hawkish former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who advocated a “Libya model” of unilateral denuclearization as a template for North Korea.
The 2004 disarmament of Libya is seen by Pyongyang as a deeply provocative comparison because Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi was killed following U.S.-supported military action in his country seven years after giving up a rudimentary nuclear program that was far less advanced than North Korea’s.
The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who lobbied hard to set up the first summit between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump last year in Singapore, welcomed Mr. Choe’s announcement and expressed hope that the resumed talks would result in “substantial progress” in denuclearization and stabilisation of peace.