U.S. Special Representative Sung Kim and his deputy Chong Park met with South Korean officials.
Washington and Seoul will pursue a policy of “maximum deterrence” against Pyongyang amid its “escalating actions,” the U.S. envoy for North Korea said on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that Pyongyang has tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting targets throughout the United States. This was the 13th test this year, which raises concerns that North Korea may be preparing to resume nuclear weapons tests.
U.S. Special Envoy Sung Kim and his deputy Chong Park arrived in Seoul for a five-day visit and met with South Korean officials, including nuclear Envoy Noh Kyu-duk.
“It is extremely important for the UN Security Council to send a clear signal to the DPRK that we will not perceive its escalating tests as a normal phenomenon,” Sung Kim told reporters after talks with Noh Kyu-duk.
“We agreed on the need to maintain the maximum joint deterrence potential on the peninsula,” Sung Kim said.
He also noted that the allies will “responsibly and decisively respond” to provocations, while stressing their readiness to interact with North Korea “anywhere without any conditions.”
Kim’s arrival coincided with the start of the nine-day annual joint exercises of American and South Korean troops.
As part of the exercises, “defensive command posts are being trained using computer simulation” and field maneuvers are not expected, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea said on Sunday.
Pyongyang has expressed dissatisfaction with the U.S.-South Korean joint exercises, and in recent years they have been reduced amid efforts to involve the DPRK in diplomatic cooperation, as well as due to restrictions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, North Korea conducted a test launch of missiles that, according to North Korean state media, are designed to deliver tactical nuclear weapons.
The American envoy has repeatedly offered to resume contacts with North Korea, but Pyongyang has so far rejected these proposals, accusing Washington of adhering to hostile policies, including sanctions and military exercises.
Kim is expected to meet with the transition team of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who will take office in May.
The candidate for the post of foreign minister in the new government, Park Chin, said that a meeting between him and Kim was planned.
During the talks with Noh Kyu-duk, Kim stressed that Washington hopes for close cooperation with the team of Yoon Suk-yeol.