The United States will continue to seek dialogue with Pyongyang over its nuclear program, a State Department spokesman said Tuesday, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister tamped down U.S. expectations for an early resumption of talks.
"We remain prepared to engage in principal negotiations with the DPRK to deal with the challenge of its nuclear program," Ned Price told a conference call, using the acronym of North Korea's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Price made the remarks in response to a statement Tuesday by Kim Yo Jong, also a close aide to the North Korean leader, that U.S. expectations for bilateral talks could bring "disappointment."
"When it comes to the comments you mentioned emanating from North Korea, we've seen them; we're aware of them. They have not changed our view on diplomacy," the spokesman said.
He also reiterated a U.S. offer "to meet anywhere, anytime without preconditions," adding that Washington continues "to hope that the DPRK will respond positively to our outreach."
The exchange of responses started after North Korean state-run media Korean Central News Agency reported Friday that Kim Jong Un has pledged to prepare for both "dialogue and confrontation" with the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.
It is thought to be the North Korean leader's first public expression of eagerness for talks with the Biden administration since it came to power in January, with denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea stalled for around 18 months.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called the comments "an interesting signal" during a TV interview aired on Sunday and suggested that Washington is looking for a "clearer signal" from North Korea to agree to sit down and begin negotiations.
Kim Yo Jong then reacted to Sullivan through a statement carried by KCNA, saying, "It seems that the U.S. may interpret the situation in such a way as to seek a comfort for itself."
"The expectation, which they chose to harbor the wrong way, would plunge them into a greater disappointment," she added.
North Korea is believed to be reluctant to hold bilateral talks with the Biden administration unless Washington withdraws what Pyongyang considers its hostile policy position.
Price said Tuesday that the U.S. policy on North Korea is not aimed at hostility.
"It's aimed at solutions. And it's ultimately about achieving the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he said.