Ex-minister calls on S. Korea, U.S. to suspend joint military drills to resume talks with N.K.

SEOUL-- A former unification minister on Friday called on South Korea and the United States to suspend their planned joint military drills to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

Jeong Se-hyun, who currently serves as executive vice chairperson of the presidential National Unification Advisory Council, made the remarks at a conference, saying the North is unlikely to return to talks unless Seoul and Washington openly express their intent to suspend the exercises.

"There needs to be a clear message from the South Korean and U.S. governments on the suspension of the military exercises," he said.

After summit talks with President Moon Jae-in last week, U.S. President Joe Biden expressed a willingness to engage diplomatically with North Korea. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken later urged the North to return to talks, saying the ball is now in Pyongyang's court.

But Jeong said the U.S. should do more to get the North back to dialogue as Pyongyang has called on Washington to end what it calls a "hostile policy" toward the regime. He said the ball didn't even cross over into the North's court, due to the North's demand.

"The U.S. hasn't realized that the ball fell back right into its own court after hitting a wall of the North's demand for withdrawing hostile policies," he said.

In March, North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui stressed that Pyongyang will continue to ignore any contact from the U.S. unless Washington withdraws its "hostile policies" against the North.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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