October 1, 2019 07:00 AM
SEOUL – North Korea has agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks with the United States this Saturday, according to a senior North Korean diplomat quoted in state media.
Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, says Pyongyang and Washington have agreed to hold talks on October 5 and will have “preliminary contact” the day before. It is not clear where the meetings will take place.
“The delegates of the DPRK side are ready to enter into the DPRK-U.S. working-level negotiations,” said Choe, referring to the abbreviation of North Korea’s official name. “It is my expectation that the working-level negotiations would accelerate the positive development of the DPRK-U.S. relations.”
The announcement comes almost exactly three months after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas and agreed to resume working-level talks.
Since then, North Korea had refused to schedule a date for the talks. It instead lashed out at the U.S. and South Korea and continued to test short-range ballistic missiles.
The announcement raises the possibility of a breakthrough in talks that have been stalled since February, when a Kim-Trump meeting in Vietnam broke down over how to pace sanctions relief with steps to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program.
It’s not clear if either side has softened their negotiating stance, though recent developments suggest an increased willingness to work towards a deal.