The United States is prepared to take “simultaneous steps” with North Korea to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula, the American ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday, but she also warned the North Koreans against conducting further missile tests.
The ambassador, Kelly Craft, made the remarks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which was called at her request over worries that North Korea could soon resume testing of its long-range missiles or perhaps even nuclear weapons, which it halted in 2017.
That moratorium was declared by North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, during a period of optimistic-sounding diplomacy, punctuated by a summit meeting with President Trump in Singapore in June 2018, and two more meetings in following months. But talks between the two countries aimed at ending seven decades of hostility, and with it the elimination of Mr. Kim’s nuclear arsenal, have long been stalled.
Mr. Kim, angered over United Nations sanctions that have isolated North Korea for years, has been hinting of a change in policy unless diplomatic progress is made with the United States. His military has launched more than a dozen short-range missiles this year, in what are widely viewed as signs of Mr. Kim’s impatience.
Mr. Kim has given Mr. Trump a Dec. 31 deadline for a concession that could restart the diplomacy toward a peace agreement. Other North Korean officials have warned that the United States might receive an unwelcome “Christmas gift” if that deadline is ignored.
Responding to the North Korean warnings, Ms. Craft sought to portray the United States as willing to make concessions, although she did not specify what they might be.
“We have said many times before that we remain ready to engage in this comprehensive process,” Ms. Craft told the council. “We remain ready to take actions in parallel, and to simultaneously take concrete steps toward this agreement.”
But she also warned against further missile tests, asserting they are not only violations of longstanding Security Council resolutions but are “deeply counterproductive to the shared objectives” of Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.
There was no immediate response from North Korea, which did not send any representatives to the Security Council meeting.
Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly asserted he has a budding friendship with Mr. Kim, has largely ignored North Korea’s missile launches this year. The Trump administration also prevented a Security Council meeting requested by other members on North Korean human rights abuses, in what was interpreted as a gesture to mollify North Korea.
But Mr. Trump, perhaps mindful that renewed hostilities with North Korea could adversely affect his 2020 re-election prospects, also has indirectly warned North Korea against resuming long-range missile launches and nuclear tests, saying on Saturday that he did not believe Mr. Kim wished to “interfere” in the elections.