White House stresses denuclearization amid reports of North Korea’s openness to talks

White House stresses denuclearization amid reports of North Korea’s openness to talks
© Getty

The White House said Sunday that any diplomatic talks with North Korea must include a focus on Kim Jong Un’s government abandoning its nuclear weapons program.

“The United States, our Olympic Host the Republic of Korea, and the international community broadly agree that denuclearization must be the result of any dialogue with North Korea,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Sanders's comments come after reports that South Korea said North Korea is receptive to taking part in discussions with the United States.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We will see if Pyongyang’s message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearization,” Sanders said.

Tensions between North and South Korea have cooled in recent weeks, and the North sent officials to Pyeongchang for the opening and closing ceremonies at this month’s Winter Olympics.

The North Korean delegation reportedly told South Korean officials that the improved relationship between the two nations should coincide with a better rapport between Pyongyang and Washington. 

U.S. officials have said they are open to talks with North Korea, but have vowed to maintain pressure on Kim to end the country’s nuclear program.

President Trump on Friday announced what he and his administration billed as the “largest-ever” wave of sanctions against North Korea, which target the country's sources of revenue and fuel.