Earlier this month, North Korea conducted ballistic and cruise missile tests on its first such launches in six months, demonstrating its ability to attack South Korea and Japan, two key allies of the United States where a total of 80,000 American troops are stationed.
But last Friday and Saturday, Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, contacted Seoul, saying she was open to resuming talks and reconciliation measures if the conditions are right. Some experts have said that North Korea wants South Korea to play a role in securing sanctions relief or other US-led concessions. In his second statement on Saturday, Kim Yo Jong called on South Korea to drop “hostile policies” and “double-play standards.”
South Korea’s Unification Ministry on Sunday called its statement “meaningful,” but urged North Korea to restore dormant communication channels before holding talks between the rivals. North Korea did not respond.
U.S. officials have repeatedly expressed hope that they will sit down for talks with North Korea, but have also made it clear that they will maintain the sanctions until the North takes concrete steps to support it. denuclearization.
A US-led diplomatic effort to convince North Korea to give up nuclear weapons in return for economic and political benefits remains stalled after 2.5 years. One of the main sticking points is a dispute over the sanctions the United States has imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missile tests.
Kim Jong Un has said he will bolster his nuclear arsenal and introduce more sophisticated weapons if the United States does not abandon its “hostile policies” against the North, an apparent reference to sanctions. Despite his recent missile tests, Kim still maintains a moratorium on testing longer-range weapons capable of reaching the American homeland, suggesting that he wishes to preserve the chances of future diplomacy with the United States.
North Korea’s fragile economy recently suffered a huge setback due to a combination of the coronavirus pandemic, sanctions and natural disasters. Kim said his country was facing “the worst crisis ever”.