The White House expressed veiled opposition to South Korea's proposal for rare inter-Korean talks Monday, saying current conditions are "far away" from those needed to reopen dialogue with the recalcitrant state.
Seoul proposed military talks for this coming Friday and Red Cross talks on Aug. 1 to discuss ways to ease tensions along their shared border and resume reunions of families separated since the 1950-53 Korean War.
The offer came amid renewed tensions over the North's first launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.
"Well, obviously those comments came out of the Republic of Korea and I would refer you back to them," Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a briefing, when asked if there are certain conditions U.S. President Donald Trump would like to see met before the talks take place. "That being said, I think the president has made clear in the past with respect that any type of conditions that would have to be met are clearly far away from where we are now."
Other government officials expressed a cautious attitude earlier in the day.
"We refer you to the ROK government for comment," Katina Adams, a State Department spokeswoman, said in response to a query from Yonhap about whether Washington views the proposal as appropriate in the wake of the latest provocation.
The last time the Koreas held official talks was in December 2015.
Cmdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, repeated Adams' remark when asked for comment.
The South Korean government under liberal President Moon Jae-in has stressed the need to reopen dialogue with the communist neighbor while also keeping sanctions in place.
But Trump has mostly focused his efforts on pressuring China to do more to rein in the North.
Washington has also been pushing to impose fresh sanctions on Pyongyang by drawing up a U.N. Security Council resolution and targeting foreign firms doing business with the North.
In New York, a Japanese government spokesman told U.N. reporters that now is a time to raise pressure on North Korea, not hold dialogue, according to news reports.
Tokyo "downplayed" South Korea's proposal for cross-border talks, the AFP said.
Trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan has been key in efforts to get the North to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
Pyongyang has yet to respond to Seoul's offer.
near Paju, north of Seoul, on July 17, 2017, with a North Korean sentry post (above) seen in the background.(Yonhap)
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