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International relations

US won't recognize North-South talks without denuclearization

Ambassador Haley also says Washington will seek Security Council meeting on Iran

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley discussed North Korea and Iran on Tuesday at U.N. headquarters in New York.   © Reuters

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. rejected potential talks between Seoul and Pyongyang at a news conference here Tuesday, rebuffing the prospect of any substantive dialogue without a commitment by the North to abandon its nuclear weapons.

"We won't take any of the talks seriously if they don't do something to ban all nuclear weapons in North Korea," Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters. "North Korea can talk with anyone they want, but the U.S. is not going to recognize it or acknowledge it" without an agreement to denuclearize.

"We don't think we need a Band-Aid, and we don't think we need to smile and take a picture," Haley said of the proposed talks, which would be held in the context of next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon proposed high-ranking government talks with Pyongyang earlier Tuesday covering the North's participation in the global sporting event. Cho's olive branch comes a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed willingness to send a delegation to Pyeongchang in his New Year's Day address.

In the same speech, Kim discussed the possibility of dialogue to improve inter-Korean relations, but the leader also applauded what he called the completion of his country's nuclear weapons force, noting that "no force and nothing can reverse" this advance.

Pyongyang remains subject to multiple rounds of harsh Security Council sanctions, including a resolution adopted Dec. 22 that restricts the North's access to oil and shutters its overseas labor program within two years.

Haley cited that resolution as "a great achievement" but noted that recent reports indicate the possibility of another proscribed missile test by the North in the coming days. "I hope that does not happen," she said. "But if it does, we must bring even more measures to bear on the North Korean regime."

The ambassador, addressing other American priorities for 2018, noted the economic protests in Iran and urged the international community to respond. "If the Iranian dictatorship's history is any guide, we can expect more outrageous abuses in the days to come. The U.N. must speak out," Haley said, adding that the U.S. will call for an emergency meeting on the issue in both the Security Council and the Human Rights Council.

Haley also noted the U.S. decision to cut aid to Pakistan, citing a "double game" in which Pakistan occasionally works with Washington while harboring terrorists that attack American troops in Afghanistan. "[President Donald Trump] is willing to go to great lengths to stop all funding from Pakistan as they continue to harbor and support terrorism," Haley said.

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