North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

North Korea ‘willing to talk’ with US on nuclear moratorium

NORTH Korea has indicated it is open to a moratorium on its nuclear and ballistic missile testing, in unusually frank comments from one of the country's ambassadors.

Tensions have been high between the US and the rogue state since American student Otto Warmbier died as a result of a catastrophic brain injury sustained while he was detained by North Korea.

But, the reclusive nation's ambassador to India, Kye Chun Yong, has told Indian TV that it is prepared to halt its weapons testing program if the US stops its military exercises in the region.

"Under certain circumstances, we are willing to talk in terms of the freezing of nuclear testing and missile testing," Mr Kye told the Gravitas program on Indian station WION, speaking in English.

"For instance, if the American side completely stopped big, large-scale military exercises temporarily or permanently, then we will also temporarily stop."

"Let's talk about how to solve the Korean issue peacefully."

US President Trump said earlier this year that he would be open to talking with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un one-on-one under the right circumstances, but White House spokesman Sean Spicer poured cold water on that prospect on Tuesday in light of Mr Warmbier's death.

"Clearly, we're moving further away, not closer, to those conditions being enacted," Mr Spicer told reporters.

"I would not suggest that we're moving any closer."

Mr Trump appeared to concede defeat in his efforts to curb North Korea's weapons program in a tweet on Tuesday.

"While I greatly appreciate the efforts of [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out," Mr Trump wrote.

"At least I know China tried!"

American student Otto Warmbier speaks as he is presented to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. More than 15 months after he gave a staged confession in North Korea, he was brought home to the US and died shortly after
American student Otto Warmbier speaks as he is presented to reporters in Pyongyang, North Korea. More than 15 months after he gave a staged confession in North Korea, he was brought home to the US and died shortly after AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon

"We have come to a stalemate when it comes to North Korea," she said in response to a question from news.com.au.

"Despite many years of urging North Korea to cease its dangerous and risky behaviour, it has continued to test ballistic missiles, it's continued its nuclearisation program, so we welcome any new, fresh ideas that the new administration has in dealing with North Korea."

The US has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea and has helped the nation set up a controversial Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system, designed to shoot down a North Korean ballistic missile.

North Korea is attempting to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States mainland.

The nation has stepped up its weapons program this year, staging daring missile tests, provocative live fire drills and elaborate military parades, in an effort to intimidate its enemies.

It has carried out five nuclear weapons tests to date and has threatened to carry out a sixth at any moment.

US spy satellites have picked up new activity at North Korea's underground nuclear test site, CNN reported on Tuesday.

The hermit kingdom put a moratorium on its weapons program in 2012 in exchange for food from the US, but the deal fell apart when North Korea launched a rocket two months later.

North Korea will be on top of the agenda when Chinese and American officials meeting in Washington on Wednesday.

News Corp Australia


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