Remarks by Deputy Secretary and Special Representative for North Korea Stephen E. Biegun

July 8, 2020

Ambassador Lee Do-Hoon and I discussed recent developments on the Korean Peninsula and the potential for us to continue to make progress together on our goals on the Korean peninsula.  I emphasized to Ambassador Lee that the United States strongly supports inter-Korean cooperation, and we believe this plays an important component in creating a more stable environment on the Korean Peninsula. We look forward to fully supporting the government of the Republic of Korea as it advances its goals with North Korea on inter-Korean cooperation.

Let me clarify one thing. I’ve seen some recent press reporting that the North Koreans are not prepared to meet with me on this visit.  We did not request a meeting with the North Koreans. This visit is to meet with our close friends and allies, the Republic of Korea, and we had an excellent discussion.

I also want to be very clear on one point.  I do not take my direction from Vice-Minister Choi Son Hui, nor from Ambassador John Bolton. Both are locked in an old way of thinking, focused on only the negatives and what is impossible, rather than thinking creatively about what is possible.  I take my guidance from the conclusions of the several meetings that President Trump and Chairman Kim have had over the last two years.  Their vision is what guides our team: a focus on creating a more durable peace on the Korean Peninsula, transformed relations, the elimination of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, and a brighter future for the Korean people.  When Chairman Kim appoints a counterpart to me, who is prepared and empowered to negotiate on these issues, they will find us ready at that very moment.  Dialogue can lead to action, but action is impossible without dialogue.

We look forward to continuing our work for a peaceful outcome on the Korean Peninsula.  I believe this is very much possible. President Trump has given us his full support to continue this effort, and I want to thank President Moon and the South Korean government for their strong partnership in this regard.