North Korea will have dialogue with US under 'right conditions': Reports

These latest comments by Choe Son Hui came amid stepped up international efforts to press North Korea and ease tension over its pursuit of nuclear arms.

Picture for representation
The North Korea flag flutters next to concertina wire at the North Korean embassy. Reuters

A senior North Korean diplomat who handles relations with the United States said on Saturday that Pyongyang would have dialogue with the US administration if conditions were right, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

The agency said that Choe Son Hui, North Korea's foreign ministry director general for US affairs said this in Beijing, while she was travelling home from Norway.

When she was asked if the North was preparing to hold talks with the Trump administration, Choe said: "We'll have dialogue if the conditions are there". In response to questions about whether Pyongyang was also preparing to talk with the new government in South Korea, of liberal President Moon Jae In, she said: "We'll see."

These latest comments by Choe came amid stepped up international efforts to press North Korea and ease tension over its pursuit of nuclear arms.

In late April, US President Donald Trump warned in an interview with Reuters that a "major, major conflict" with the North was possible. However, he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute over its nuclear and missile programmes. Later, Trump said he would be "honoured" to meet the North's leader, Kim Jong Un, under the right conditions.

According to Japanese media, Choe, who is a veteran member of the North's team of nuclear negotiators, was in Norway for so-called Track Two talks with former US government officials. This was the latest in a series of such meetings.

A source with knowledge of the latest meeting said at least one former US government official took part but the US administration was not involved.

South Korea's Moon, elected this week on a platform of a moderate approach to North Korea, has said he would be willing to go to Pyongyang under the right circumstances and said dialogue must be used in parallel with sanctions to resolve the problem over North Korea's weapons.

In defiance of United Nations and US sanctions, North Korea has already conducted five nuclear tests and is also developing long-range missiles to deliver atomic weapons. It claims that it needs such weapons to defend itself against US aggression.