UPDATE : 2019.11.19 TUE 11:52
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S. Korea says N.K. apparently eyes nuclear talks with U.S. after military drills end

North Korea appears to be seeking the resumption of working-level nuclear talks with the United States after ongoing joint military drills between Seoul and Washington end, South Korea's presidential office said Monday.

A senior Cheong Wa Dae official was responding to a statement issued by a North Korean foreign ministry official Sunday that contains strong condemnation against South Korea and blasted Seoul for staging the allies' military exercises that kicked off last week.

South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

The message came after U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un voiced his will to resume nuclear talks with the U.S. "as soon as" the military exercises are over.

"(The North Korean statement) appears to demonstrate the country's willingness to hold working-level talks (with the U.S. over denuclearization) after the drills end," the presidential official said, without commenting on Cheong Wa Dae's stance over the message.

When asked by reporters whether Cheong Wa Dae felt uneasy about the North's belligerent message, the official said, "Statements issued by North Korea use different languages, compared with ours."

Meanwhile, the office of President Moon Jae-in dismissed a Japanese media report saying the U.S. supported Tokyo's claim that South Korean court rulings over Japan's wartime forced labor violate the 1965 bilateral treaty that normalized the Seoul-Tokyo ties.

Japan's Mainichi reported Sunday that Tokyo had consulted with Washington to brace for possible requests by forced labor victims seeking asset seizure of Japanese firms in the U.S. and Washington delivered its support to Japan's claim late last year.

"South Korea has checked (the veracity of the report) with the U.S. side at the National Security Council level and received a reply that it was not true," Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung told a press briefing.

Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koreapost.com

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