SEOUL, South Korea—North Korea on Tuesday said it has no immediate intent to resume a dialogue with the United States as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun arrived in South Korea for discussions on stalled nuclear diplomacy.
In a statement released through the Norths official Korean Central News Agency, senior North Korean foreign ministry official Kwon Jong Gun also ridiculed “nonsensical” calls by South Korea for revived negotiations between the United States and North Korea, saying it has lost its relevance as a mediator.
The State Department said Biegun, who is also President Donald Trumps special representative for North Korea, will discuss cooperation on a range of issues in meetings this week with officials in South Korea and Japan, including the “final, fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea.
Kwons statement came hours before Biegun arrived at a U.S. air base near Seoul. The U.S. Embassy said Biegun, members of his delegation, and the military air crew were being tested for COVID-19 at the base and would proceed to Seoul after confirmation that all had negative test results.
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have met three times since embarking on high-stakes nuclear diplomacy in 2018. But negotiations have faltered since their second summit in February last year in Vietnam, where the Americans rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capability.
Amid the stalemate in talks, North Korea has repeatedly said in recent months that it would no longer give Trump the gift of high-profile meetings he could boast of as foreign policy achievements unless it gets something substantial in return.
North Korea has also been dialing up pressure on the South, cutting off virtually all cooperation and blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office in its territory last month, following months of frustration over Seouls unwillingness to defy U.S.-led sanctions and restart joint economic projects that would help the Norths broken economy.
“Explicitly speaking once again, we have no intention to sit face-to-face with U.S.,” Kwon said in the statement.
Some analysts believe North Korea will avoid serious talks with the Americans for now and instead focus on pressuring the South in a bid to increase its bargaining power before an eventual return to negotiations after the U.S. presidential election in November.