With U.S. patience running out, N. Korea’s window for dialogue could close: Mark Lippert

SEOUL-- North Korea should strategically seize chances for denuclearization talks with the United States as soon as possible, as U.S. patience is limited and the window for diplomacy could close, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea said Tuesday.

Negotiations on the North's nuclear weapons program have been stalled since the no-deal Hanoi summit in February. Though U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed in June to resume the talks and the U.S. has suggested working-level dialogue, Pyongyang has been dragging its feet.

"Both the U.S. and the Republic of Korea have made credible entreaties to the North to move the denuclearization and peace process forward. ... It is really upon the North to come back to the table," Mark Lippert said in an interview in Seoul on the sidelines of the International Seapower Symposium organized by the South Korean Navy.

"Because North Koreans themselves put the deadline as the end of the year, but also I think there is limited amount of patience on this issue, the window at some point would close on these efforts by the U.S. and South Korea," he said.

Lippert also warned that Seoul and Washington could "revert to additional pressure" on the North.

"It would be optimal for them to come back to the table as soon as possible. ... I hope North Koreans strategically seize this opportunity," he said.

Asked about his suggestions to better relations between Seoul and Tokyo, which have deteriorated following Japan's export curbs on South Korea, the former ambassador simply said those are very "tough and complicated issues," and called for constructive and cooperative solutions.

He also declined to answer questions about any possible impacts Seoul's decision to end the military information-sharing pact with Japan would have on the Seoul-Washington alliance.

Last month, South Korea announced its decision to end the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in response to Japan's trade restrictions. Washington has since publicly expressed disappointment with the decision and concern over the possible loosening of trilateral security cooperation.

The pact was signed in 2016 when Lippert was serving as Washington's top envoy to Seoul. Following Seoul's decision, the pact will expire in November.

Lippert now serves as vice president of Boeing International.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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