US, North Korea talks will soon resume: Seoul

South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong

Seoul, ┬áSeoul on Thursday said negotiations between North Korea and the US may resume soon, following a US special envoy’s visit to South Korea.

“The impression that I got (from the talks with Stephen Biegun) was that the dialogue between the North and the US appears likely to unfold soon,” South Korean Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Hyun-chong said after a meeting with Biegun, Yonhap news agency reported.

The South Korean official’s remarks came a day after Biegun said that the US was “prepared to engage as soon as we hear from our counterparts in North Korea”, a position that the North does not appear to share.

The meeting between Biegun and Kim took place hours after the North Korean regime issued a statement saying that it was not interested in dialogue while the US and South Korea were engaged in “military threats”, in reference to the recent joint exercises by Seoul and Washington and the arrival of two US-made F-35A fighter jets in South Korea on Wednesday.

Talks between North Korea and the US have been stalled since the failed summit between leaders Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump in Hanoi in February.

The dialogue was expected to be resumed after the two agreed to revive negotiations in an impromptu third meeting at the inter-Korean border in June.

The hard line adopted by Pyongyang and rising tension on the Korean Peninsula after the North test-fired six rounds of projectiles since July 25 as a protest against the US-South Korea drills, has left the fate of the dialogue up in the air.

Biegun arrived in Seoul on Tuesday on a three-day visit which he later extended by a day, diplomatic officials told Yonhap, giving rise to speculations that he might contact North Korean negotiators.

However, Washington has said that Biegun does not have any meetings planned beyond Thursday.

In addition to the North Korean issue, Biegun also communicated to Seoul the importance of maintaining trilateral cooperation with Japan, at a time when the South is preparing to review the renewal of its military information-sharing agreement with Tokyo following a renewal of tensions between the two on account of historical and trade disputes.