Kim’s sister: NKorea willing to talk if Seoul shows respect

SEOUL, South Korea — The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday that her country will take steps to repair ties with South Korea, and may even discuss another summit between their leaders, if the South drops what she described as hostility and double standards.

The comments by Kim Yo Jong followed a similar statement she issued Friday that the North was willing to resume talks with the South if certain conditions were met.

Analysts say North Korea is using South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s desire for inter-Korean engagement to pressure Seoul to persuade the Biden administration to ease crippling U.S.-led sanctions over the North’s nuclear weapons program or suspend combined U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

In her latest statement, Kim, a senior official who handles inter-Korean affairs, criticized Seoul for describing the North’s recent weapons tests as provocations when it’s trying to expand its own military capabilities. North Korea accuses the South of being hypocritical for using modern weapons and calling for negotiations to ease tensions.

Kim urged the South to abandon its “unfair double-dealing standards, hostile policies (toward North Korea), various prejudices and hostile comments destroying trust,” if it wants the North to respond to its calls to improve ties.

If the Koreas are able to build mutual trust, Kim said North Korea could possibly respond to the South’s calls for a declaration to formally end the Korean War, restore an inter-Korean liaison office the North destroyed in 2020, and discuss another summit.

“There is no need for the (North) and the (South) to waste time faulting each other and engaging in a war of words at present,” said Kim, adding that the future of bilateral relations depends on the choices the South makes.

“I won’t predict here what will come — a balmy breeze or a storm,” she said.

Ties between the rivals flourished in 2018, when Moon helped set up Kim Jong Un’s first summit with former President Donald Trump. Three times in a row, the leaders of Korea met and agreed to resume inter-Korean cooperation whenever possible. They expressed optimism about lifting sanctions and permitting such projects.

But North Korea later cut off ties with South Korea following the collapse of the second summit between Kim and Trump in 2019, when the Americans rejected North Korea’s demand for major sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear facility. This would only have resulted in a partial surrender by the North of its nuclear capabilities.

Kim Yo Jong’s statements came in response to Moon’s speech at the U.N. General assembly this week, where he called for a declaration between the leaders of the Koreas, the United States and China to end the 1950-53 Korean War, which stopped with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Kim and North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song issued separate statements on Friday rebuffing Moon’s proposal, saying the North has no interest in such a declaration while the United States maintains its “hostile” policies. Kim remarked that North Korea would be open to “constructive” negotiations if it stopped provoking the South.

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