U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Friday that Washington is waiting for North Korea’s response to a proposal for resuming dialogue and looks forward to a “reliable, predictable and constructive way forward” with Pyongyang.
She made th remarks after meeting her Korean counterpart, First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun, in Seoul.
The U.S. special representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, offered to meet “anywhere, anytime without precondition” last month, but North Korea has not shown any interest in following up on that offer.
Sherman, the No. 2 American diplomat, was in Seoul as part of an Asia trip that will include stops in Japan and Mongolia as well as Oman. She is also scheduled to meet with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, and others in Tianjin, China. The trip is expected to lead to future higher-level meetings between the U.S. and China, and comes as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visits Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines.
While in Seoul, Sherman addressed China’s role on the North Korea nuclear issue, saying, “Thinking together about bringing the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is certainly an area for cooperation.”
She added that “We look forward to having that discussion as part of the meetings that we will have.”
Choi said that China has an important role to play in bringing North Korea to dialogue, and he believes China knows that, too. He also said that he hopes North Korea responds soon to the offer for talks.
Nuclear talks with North Korea stalled during the Trump administration when the Americans rejected Kim Jong Un’s demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of his nation’s nuclear capabilities. In recent speeches, Kim has spoken of bolstering North Korea’s nuclear deterrent and claimed that the fate of diplomacy and bilateral relations depends on whether Washington abandons what he calls hostile policies.
Shin Beom-cheol, director of the Division of North Korean Military Studies at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA), told VOA Korean that by mentioning China’s role, the U.S. and South Korea look like they are opening a door for multilateral cooperation on addressing the North Korea issue.
“The fact that both the U.S. and South Korean deputy secretaries acknowledge China’s role suggests the possibility of small-scale multilateral cooperation when it comes to discussing North Korea, although U.S. and China barely see eye to eye on North Korea,” said Shin.
Park Won-gon of Ewha Womans University in Seoul, however, told VOA Korean he was skeptical about how much cooperation the U.S. can expect from China considering the tension between the two countries. Most recently, the Biden administration accused China of instigating a large-scale hack of Microsoft Exchange email server software.
On Monday, the U.S. indicted four Chinese nationals on charges they tried to steal U.S. trade secrets, technology and disease research. China rejected the allegations.
“On the whole the U.S.-China tension is rising, said Park. “Therefore, you can’t be sure at which point the U.S. would be able to draw China’s support on denuclearization of North Korea. I don’t think it will be easy, especially when China-North Korea relations got closer recently. China is showing signs of supporting North Korea on most issues.”
Nike Ching contributed to this article. Some information originated with AP.