North Korea, Seeking ‘Equal Footing,’ Rejects Preconditions for U.S. Talks

United States officials have said that North Korea has used past negotiations to win economic concessions while continuing to advance its nuclear weapons program. They’ve insisted that this time, they would not start a dialogue until the North first took steps that would convince them of its willingness to negotiate away its nuclear weapons.

Vowing not to repeat past mistakes, the Trump administration has said that even if talks started, it would maintain its “maximum” pressure and sanctions campaign until North Korea denuclearized. Mr. Trump has also threatened to use military force if diplomacy fails to end the nuclear crisis.

For its part, North Korea said it would not give up its nuclear weapons, arguing that it has been driven to develop a nuclear deterrent because of American “hostility.” It demanded that Washington first accept it as a nuclear power before discussing ways of easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has urged both the United States and North Korea to soften their stances so talks could begin on defusing the crisis, which appeared to push the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war in the past year. He planned to send a special envoy to North Korea soon to find ways to narrow the gap between the United States and North Korea over the terms under which they could start a dialogue.

”We have intentions to resolve issues in a diplomatic and peaceful way through dialogue and negotiation, but we will neither beg for dialogue nor evade the military option claimed by the U.S.,” the North Korean spokesman said on Saturday. “We have full capability and will to confront any option favored by the U.S.”

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