U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun (L) meets with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Do-hoon, in Seoul on July 8, 2020.
President Donald Trump's point man on North Korea says the U.S. is ready to resume nuclear dialogue with the regime.
Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun made the remarks Wednesday during his visit to Seoul, apparently aimed at bolstering the alliance with South Korea and seeking diplomacy with the North amid rising tensions in the region.
Ron Chang reports.
After talks with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon, Biegun said Washington was prepared to resume dialogue with North Korea.
Biegun said whenever leader Kim Jong-un picks his counterpart, who would be empowered to negotiate on crucial issues, "they will find us ready at that very moment."
His remarks came despite Pyongyang stressing twice in the past week that it has no plans to sit down for talks with the U.S.
Speculation was swirling before Biegun's arrival that the U.S. may have requested a meeting with Pyongyang.
But Biegun clarified no such requests were made.
Earlier, South Korean President Moon Jae-in had expressed hope for another Trump-Kim meeting before the U.S. presidential election in November.
The two sides have been at an impasse since summit talks broke down in Hanoi last year over differences on the sequencing of denuclearization steps and sanctions relief.
Biegun added Seoul and Washington remain committed to a diplomatic approach in eliminating the North's nuclear weapons.
And he said the U.S. strongly supports inter-Korean cooperation as an important component in creating a more stable environment on the Korean Peninsula.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. envoy met with First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young, and the two reiterated the need for the allies to swiftly reach an agreement on defense cost sharing.
Talks on the upkeep of American troops in Korea have been stalled amid differences over how much Seoul should pay.
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