N. Korea still mum on S. Korean foreign minister’s offer to meet

North Korea has yet to respond to South Korea’s offer to hold foreign ministerial talks on the sidelines of this week’s United Nations General Assembly in New York, a senior South Korean official said Friday.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong-ho, have both been attending the U.N. gathering, setting the stage for a possible meeting between the two amid recent reconciliation efforts on the divided peninsula.

Ri arrived in New York Tuesday and met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the following day to discuss Pyongyang’s denuclearization efforts and plan a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to the U.S. State Department.

But the North has not responded to the South’s offer to meet, the senior government official told reporters here on condition of anonymity.

“It’s possible that North Korea feels uncomfortable about having a meeting between South and North, in the same way they would meet foreign leaders, because we are not separate nations,” the official said.

Ri is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly Saturday morning. And while it’s still possible to hold the meeting before Kang’s scheduled departure in the afternoon, the official said it appears unlikely for now.

North Korea has traditionally refused to discuss denuclearization with South Korea, saying it’s an issue to be addressed between the North and the U.S.

But in recent months, Kim has had three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and committed to pursue “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

Kang and Ri met in Pyongyang last week during the last inter-Korean summit that yielded Kim’s commitment to permanently shut down a missile engine testing facility and, conditional on corresponding U.S. measures, a key nuclear facility.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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