The White House has reached out to North Korea to resume denuclearization talks, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien told Axios in an interview published Sunday.
O’Brien told the news outlet on Friday that President Trump’s administration has reached out to North Korea and “let them know that we would like to continue the negotiations in Stockholm that were last undertaken in early October.
“We’ve been letting them know, through various channels, that we would like to get those [negotiations] back on track and to implement Chairman Kim’s commitment,” he told Axios.
President Trump sent a birthday message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but a top adviser to Kim said Saturday that the “birthday greetings” and personal relationship between the leaders would not be enough to restart negotiations. Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement published by state media agency KCNA that North Korea was “deceived” by the U.S.
But O’Brien hinted that he was hopeful after Kim did not send the U.S. a “Christmas gift” as promised, which experts believed would be a nuclear weapons test.
“All we know is we were told we were going to get a Christmas gift and the Christmas gift didn’t come,” he told Axios. “And so I think that was an encouraging sign. But, again, that doesn’t mean we won’t see some sort of test in the future.”
Kim also promised the U.S. would witness “a new strategic weapon” in the “near future” in a New Year’s Eve speech.
Nuclear talks between the countries collapsed last year after a summit between Trump and Kim ended suddenly, as North Korean officials have demanded the removal of all U.S. sanctions if the country denuclearized. The U.S.’s end-of-year deadline for negotiations imposed by North Korea came and went.