Kim Jong-un’s sister dismisses hopes of US-North Korea nuclear talks
Kim Jong-un’s influential sister appears to have dismissed hopes for a breakthrough on nuclear talks with the US, warning Washington that it faced “disappointment” if it believed engagement with North Korea was a possibility.
Kim Yo-jong, a senior figure in the ruling party who is considered one of the North Korean leader’s closest confidantes, said any US expectations for a resumption of talks were “wrong”, according to the state-run KCNA news agency.
“A Korean proverb says that in a dream, what counts most is to read it, not to have it. It seems that the US may interpret the situation in such a way as to seek a comfort for itself,” Kim said.
“The expectation, which they chose to harbour the wrong way, would plunge them into a greater disappointment.”
She made the remark a day after the US’s North Korea special envoy, Sung Kim, said Washington had offered talks with the North “anywhere, anytime and without preconditions”.
Sung Kim, who is on a five-day visit to Seoul, said on Monday he hoped to see a positive reaction from Pyongyang soon, but added that US-led sanctions on North Korea would stay in place.
After a recent review of its approach towards the North, the US said it would seek “calibrated and practical” ways of persuading the regime to give up its nuclear weapons.
Joe Biden’s stance has been described as a combination of Donald Trump’s direct engagement with Kim Jong-un and Barack Obama’s policy of “strategic patience”. But some experts do not believe Biden would ease sanctions until the North has taken demonstrable steps towards dismantling its nuclear arsenal.
Other US officials have voiced cautious optimism about a breakthrough on negotiations.
The US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Kim Jong-un had sent an “interesting signal” last week when he ordered ruling party officials to prepare for “dialogue and confrontation” with the Biden administration, although he placed an emphasis on the latter.
Sullivan told ABC News the US would wait and see if the North Korean leader’s response was “followed up with any kind of more direct communication to us about a potential path forward”.
Kim Yo-jong’s intervention appears to have thwarted any prospects of an early resumption of nuclear talks, which have been deadlocked since Kim Jong-un met Trump in Hanoi in February 2019.
Their summit ended in disagreement after the US rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for partial moves towards disarmament.