BANGKOK – The United States is ready to continue talks with North Korea, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday, a day after Pyongyang conducted its second weapons test in less than a week.
“We stand ready to continue our diplomatic conversation with the North Koreans,” Pompeo told reporters at a joint news conference in Bangkok with Thai foreign minister Don Pramudwinai.
Pompeo arrived in the Thai capital on Wednesday to attend the foreign ministers’ summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The secretary of state said he was optimistic that Washington and Pyongyang would soon resume talks, although he did not specify a date when asked about the weapons tests by North Korea on Wednesday.
It was the second test by the regime in less than a week it launched missiles on Jul 24.
The two back-to-back weapons test were North Korea’s first since the meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump on June 30 at the inter-Korean border.
The new tests threaten to increase tension in the region while negotiations for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula remain stalled.
The tests are largely seen as Pyongyang’s reaction to a joint US-South Korea military drilling set to be held later this month. The “19-2 Dong Maeng” exercise would see a smaller deployment of assets than earlier joint drills.
In Bangkok, Pompeo also discussed the denuclearization of North Korea with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, who praised Washington’s willingness to resume dialog with North Korean authorities.
The North Korean delegation in the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting is headed by its ambassador to Thailand, Kim Je Bong, unlike earlier editions of the summit, when the North Korean foreign minister had been present.
Trump and Kim met for the first time on June 12, 2018 in Singapore, aiming to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea and establish peace.
Their second meeting in Vietnam in February this ended abruptly as the two sides failed to arrive at a consensus after Trump rejected Kim’s demand for sanctions relief in return for dismantling North Korea’s partial disarmament.