U.S. envoy to stress ‘ironclad’ security commitment, openness to N.K. dialogue during DMZ visit: official

The top U.S. envoy to the U.N. will reaffirm America's "ironclad" security partnership with South Korea and its openness to "unconditional" dialogue with North Korea during her visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas next week, a senior U.S. official said Friday. On Tuesday, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield plans to pay a visit to the DMZ, after which she will have a roundtable with North Korean escapees. She is set to arrive in Korea on Sunday as part of her East Asia swing that will also take her to Japan. "The message that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will send by visiting the DMZ is that the security partnership with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan is ironclad. She wants to obviously go to the DMZ to get a firsthand look at the situation there," the official said in an online press briefing. ROK is the abbreviation for South Korea's official name. "I think the message that she will repeat is that the U.S. is open to unconditional dialogue with the DPRK. We have offered t his dialogue, we've opened it with an open hand, and what we've received back from the DPRK is a clenched fist," he added. The official underscored that Washington hopes that "at some point," Pyongyang will reciprocate its overtures. "But as of now, our offers to meet have been rejected," he said. Asked if there has been any request for a summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the official said that the North has been rejecting "any kind of outreach or dialogue with the U.S. frankly at any level." "That's unfortunate, but that's where we are. I have not heard of any suggestions about President Biden reaching out to or having any engagement with his counterpart," he said. "There is a lot that would have to happen for that, and we are nowhere in that vicinity ... That's just not on the table at this moment in terms of the president's involvement." In Korea, Thomas-Greenfield plans to meet senior Seoul officials and speak with students at Ewha Womans University, accord ing to her office. In Japan, she will meet senior Tokyo officials, local students and family members of Japanese citizens abducted by Pyongyang decades ago, according to the office. In both countries, the ambassador plans to discuss the next steps to ensure the "continuation of independent and accurate reporting" of the North's weapons proliferation and sanctions evasion activities following Russia's veto of a U.N. resolution on the annual renewal of an expert panel monitoring sanctions enforcement. Absent the resolution's passage, the panel's mandate is set to expire April 30, a termination that observers say could chip away at international efforts to curb evolving North Korean nuclear and missile threats. Source: Yonhap News Agency