North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said on Jan. 29 that relations with the United States will develop “wonderfully at a fast pace” if Washington responds to its efforts on denuclearization with trustworthy measures and practical actions.
The ambassador, Han Tae Song, also told the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that Pyongyang would continue working to establish a “permanent and durable peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula.”
The summit last June between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump had brought about a dramatic turn in relations that had been “the most hostile on earth,” Han said. The summit contributed to ensuring peace and security on the divided peninsula, he added.
Han referred to the two leaders’ joint statement issued after their meeting in Singapore and Kim’s New Year’s address, adding:
“Accordingly we declared that we would neither make and test nuclear weapons any longer nor use and proliferate them and we have taken various practical measures.
“If the U.S. responds to our efforts with trustworthy measures and corresponding practical actions, bilateral relations will develop wonderfully at a fast pace through the process of taking more definite and epoch-making steps,” he said.
Han told Reuters that he had no information on a possible upcoming second summit between Kim and Trump.
South Korea’s foreign minister told Reuters at Davos last week that North Korea must make concrete pledges toward curbing its nuclear weapons program, such as dismantling its main nuclear complex and allowing international inspections to confirm the process when Kim meets Trump as soon as next month.
Han’s comments are a dramatic turnaround from his belligerent attacks and ominous warnings to the United States in late 2017. After North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb in September 2017, Han said the test was a “gift package” for the United States and warned that more would come if Washington continued its “reckless provocations.”
After the summit between Trump and Kim, Pyongyang did not test any more nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. Washington is nevertheless maintaining a tough sanctions regime against the communist nation until Pyongyang achieves complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.
Trump took a unique approach to tackle the nuclear threat in North Korea, coupling crippling sanctions with public and tough, yet often humorous, messages to Kim. The strategy yielded a historic summit with Kim and an unprecedented lull in North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons.
“The Fake News Media loves saying ‘so little happened at my first summit with Kim Jong Un.’ Wrong!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Jan. 24. “After 40 years of doing nothing with North Korea but being taken to the cleaners, & with a major war ready to start, in a short 15 months, relationships built, hostages & remains back home where they belong, no more Rockets or M’s being fired over Japan or anywhere else and, most importantly, no Nuclear Testing.”
“This is more than has ever been accomplished with North Korea, and the Fake News knows it,” he added. “I expect another good meeting soon, much potential!”
Reuters contributed to this report.