“Under certain circumstances, we are willing to talk in terms of the freezing of nuclear testing and missile testing,” North Korea Ambassador to India Kye Chun Yong said during an interview on India’s TV network WION.
According to Kye, North Korea is prepared to hold such negotiations with the U.S. at “anytime” — but without preconditions from Washington.
“If our demands is met [sic], we can negotiate in terms of the moratorium of such [programs] as weapons testing,” the diplomat said.
That said, North Korea first wants to see the U.S. “completely stop” large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea, temporarily or permanently, according to Kye. And he said the North would agree to a temporary stop of exercises too.
The U.S. has more than 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea and around 50,000 American military personnel in Japan. The U.S. regularly holds joint military drills with the two Asian allies, including exercises involving land troops, navy and air forces.
The U.S. is worried about North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons as well as its push to have an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. North Korea has already demonstrated it has missiles that can reach Japan and South Korea as well as U.S. military bases on Guam, and experts say they probably can reach the state of Hawaii.
It was unclear if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shares the views of his Indian envoy. In the past, Kim has eliminated officials or even family members he considers to be out of line or a threat to the dynastic regime.
Meantime, rhetoric coming from North Korean state media Thursday appeared to indicate Pyongyang is pressing forward with its nuclear weapons and missile development.