The United States is prepared to hold talks with North Korea, but only if Pyongyang is serious about engaging in “genuine negotiations,” US Vice-President Joe Biden said on Thursday.
A North Korean envoy said last week officials were ready for international talks in a bid to calm regional tensions, but blamed Washington for stoking strife through its military exercises with South Korea.
“Now North Korea is calling for dialogue,” Biden said in a speech on US Asia policy ahead of his trip next week to India and Singapore.
“We’ve been there before, but we are ready,” Biden said. “But only - only - if North Korea is prepared to engage in genuine negotiations.”
Biden said Washington would have no patience with North Korea’s “pattern of provoking a crisis and insisting they be rewarded” with aid in order to cease such actions, only to “return to the same provocative dangerous behaviour and continue their nuclear march.”
North Korean peace and prosperity is possible, Biden said, “but only without nuclear weapons.”
“Make no mistake about it though, we are open to engaging with any nation that’s prepared to live up to its international obligations.”
Biden also said Washington welcomed a recent statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping in which he agreed to push for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
“We welcome that firm assertion,” Biden said.
China is the main ally of North Korea, which defiantly carried out its third nuclear weapons test in February and threatened to attack the United States, in language that was shrill even by the standards of the reclusive communist state.