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N. Korea, U.S. deny plan for bilateral contact

Posted April. 22, 2016 07:42,   

Updated April. 22, 2016 07:47


North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong arrived in New York on Wednesday afternoon, starting his four-day trip to the United Nations. He left Pyongyang on the previous day before arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport via Beijing Capital International Airport and Dubai International Airport.

The official purpose of his trip is to attend a signing ceremony for the historic U.N. climate agreement, known as the “Paris Agreement,” at the U.N. headquarters on Manhattan on Friday. However, his trip draws attention because of the possibility of a North Korea-U.S. dialogue or contact. When asked about a plan for talks with the U.S., Ri did not give any answer. An official at the North Korean mission at the U.N. said, “There is no atmosphere for talks (with the United States).”

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby also told a Foreign Press Center briefing, "There is no expectation that the secretary will meet with the North Korean foreign minister. I don’t see that happening.” He stressed that the North has to show a substantial change of attitude toward its denuclearization in order to have talks with the U.S. Asked about the background of Ri’s visit to New York, the spokesman said it was the North that had to answer the question. Ri is scheduled to make remarks at a high-level meeting for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

As both the North and the U.S. deny the possibility of bilateral talks, observers speculate that Pyongyang will likely seek a bypass through U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon or a third country. The U.S.-government funded Radio Free Asia reported Thursday that Ri will likely meet with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Zarif as they had a contact at the U.N. last September, raising the possibility of Tehran’s role.

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