After a months-long stalemate, North Korea announced Tuesday that it would resume working-level talks with the United States over the dismantling of its nuclear program.
Per a statement to North Korean state news outlet KCNA, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui stated that “the delegates of the DPRK side are ready to enter into the DPRK-U.S. working-level negotiations. It is my expectation that the working-level negotiations would accelerate the positive development of the DPRK-U.S. relations.” The talks are set to begin on Friday, KCNA reported.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told The Hill in a statement that “U.S. and DPRK officials plan to meet within the next week,” but she had no further details to disclose.
Negotiations between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stalled in recent months, after a second official meeting in February between the two countries ended with no deal. But the two leaders met in June at a surprise encounter at the Korean demilitarized zone, where according to a report from Reuters, they agreed to resume talks.
South Korean spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said in a statement “that both sides will use these working-level talks to make quick and concrete progress for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a permanent peace there.”
The shift coincides with the president’s decision to remove former national security adviser John Bolton, whose hardline stance in prior negotiations turned off the North Koreans. When Bolton was removed by Trump earlier this month, North Korean envoy Kim Myong-gil praised the “wise political decision” and hoped that further talks would be negotiated “from a more practical point of view.”
A week after Bolton’s removal, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in the buildup to the United Nations General Assembly that the U.S. was ready to “engage immediately” in resumed discussions with the North Koreans.