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US-North Korea nuclear talks still stalled, Trump's envoy says

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands after signing an agreement at the Capella Hotel in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS SINGAPORE/ZUMA PRESS/TNS

By NICK WADHAMS | Bloomberg News | Published: September 7, 2019

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — The U.S. envoy for North Korea said the Trump administration is ready to negotiate whenever Kim Jong Un's regime is ready, effectively confirming that months of American efforts to bring the two sides back to denuclearization talks have stalled.

"We have made clear to North Korea we are prepared to engage as soon as we hear from them," Stephen Biegun, the special representative for North Korea talks, said in a speech Friday at the University of Michigan. "We are ready, but we cannot do this by ourselves."

Biegun's remarks highlighted that almost no progress has been made toward an agreement on North Korea's nuclear program despite three meetings between President Donald Trump and Kim, most recently on the border between North Korea and South Korea on June 30. After that meeting, the U.S. said Kim had agreed to begin detailed negotiations by the middle of July, a time frame that has been pushed back repeatedly.

In the weeks since, according to U.S. officials, Pyongyang has all but ignored U.S. entreaties to negotiate. North Korea has complained about U.S.-South Korean military exercises, conducted numerous tests of short-range missiles and warned that it could reconsider its freeze on more significant weapons tests.

Biegun sought in his speech to underscore that the U.S. was ready to help North Korea's economy once a deal is reached. And he said the U.S. was prepared to talk about steps it could take to pull relations between the two countries away from decades of conflict, though he didn't detail what those moves might be.

"We still have time to resolve these issues and I'm confident we can do it," Biegun said, though he added: "We've got to get going."

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