Trump willing to engage with N. Korea: S.Korean envoy

SEOUL — US President Donald Trump told South Korea’s presidential envoy that he was willing to make peace through engagement with North Korea if conditions are right, South Korean media reported on Thursday.

“Though we’re now at the stage of pressure and sanctions, he said he has a willingness to make peace through the so-called engagement if certain conditions are right,” Yonhap news agency cited new South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s special envoy Hong Seok-hyun as saying after Hong’s 15-minute meeting with Trump.

“He said, however, that what he’s willing to do is not talk for talk’s sake but for talks that produce an outcome,” Hong added.

Tension has remained high on the Korean Peninsula over the past months between the United States and North Korea over the US threat to stage military attacks against Pyongyang in response to its nuclear and missile programs.

The United States and South Korea also held their largest-ever joint military exercises in the past two months. At the end of April, the USS Carl Vinson nuclear aircraft carrier task group arrived in the waters off the Korean Peninsula for a separate joint naval exercise with South Korea.

However, a joint statement by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said last month that Trump aims to use economic sanctions and diplomatic measures to pressure North Korea to dismantle its nuclear and missile programs.

The statement also said that the United States remained “open to negotiations” toward peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula while staying “prepared to defend ourselves and our allies.” (Xinhua)