US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman speaks during a meeting with First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun at the foreign ministry in Seoul on Friday, in this photo provided by the ministry. (Foreign Ministry)
The United States looks forward to a "reliable, predictable and constructive" way forward with North Korea, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Friday, redoubling calls for Pyongyang to respond to Washington's overtures for dialogue.
Sherman made the remarks after talks with First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun in Seoul, amid uncertainty over the resumption of nuclear diplomacy following Pyongyang's rejection of dialogue last month.
"We are looking forward to a reliable, predictable, constructive way forward with the DPRK," Sherman told reporters, referring to the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "We have offered to sit in dialogue with the North Koreans, and we are waiting to hear from them."
The deputy secretary also expressed concern over North Korean people facing multiple hardships.
"We all feel for the people of the DPRK, who are indeed, facing all the most difficult circumstances given the pandemic, and what it means as well for their food security," she said. "We only hope for a better outcome for the people of the DPRK."
Despite the US' offer to meet with the North "anywhere, anytime without preconditions," North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Son-gwon has said that his country was not considering "even the possibility of any contact" with the US That dampened optimism that emerged after leader Kim Jong-un signaled openness to dialogue.
Asked about China's role in addressing North Korea's nuclear issue, Sherman called it "certainly an area for cooperation."
"Thinking together about bringing the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is certainly an area for cooperation," she said. "And so we look forward to having that discussion as part of the meetings that we will have."
At the start of her talks with Choi, Sherman said the agenda includes regional challenges that "threaten to undermine the rules-based international order," while stressing Seoul and Washington are bound by "our common security interests" and "our common values of democracy and freedom."
During the talks, Choi took note of Sherman's role in the Perry Process in 1999, saying the effort demonstrated that the Korean Peninsula issue can be settled through diplomacy.
Proposed by former Defense Secretary William Perry, the process refers to a three-stage proposal to tackle the North's nuclear problem, which involves the normalization of ties between the US and the North.
"Since the launch of the Biden administration, bilateral communication and exchanges have continued without a pause even for a day," Choi said. "That attests to the fact that the South Korea-US alliance is being upgraded into a sound alliance."
Sherman arrived here Wednesday for a three-day visit, after she had trilateral talks with Choi and her Japanese counterpart, Takeo Mori, in Tokyo to highlight trilateral cooperation against a recalcitrant North Korea and an assertive China.
Sherman is set to depart for Mongolia later in the day. She also plans to visit China and Oman later. (Yonhap)