North Korean diplomat says the country is prepared to hold talks with the US if "conditions" are right

Francesca Washtell
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Kim Jong-un assumed leadership of the Workers' Party of Korea in 2012 (Source: Getty)

A senior North Korean diplomat today said the country would hold talks with Donald Trump's administration in the US if conditions were right, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

"We'll have dialogue if the conditions are there," said Choe Son Hui, North Korea's foreign ministry director general for US affairs, to reporters in Beijing as she was travelling home from Norway. She did not say what these conditions would be.

When asked by reporters if North Korea was also preparing to talk with the new government in South Korea, of liberal President Moon Jae-in, Choe said: "We'll see."

Read more: North Korea fails yet another missile test

Choe is a veteran member of North Korea's team of nuclear negotiators. Although her responses were vague, the more conciliatory stance comes shortly after a period of heightened tensions between the US and the isolated Communist state.

She was in Norway for so-called Track Two talks with former US government officials, according to Japanese media, the latest in a series of such meetings.

In late April, Trump warned that a "major conflict" with North Korea was possible, but he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to disputes over its nuclear and missile testing programmes.

Read more: The North Korea nuclear crisis is going to explode – just not yet

The US leader later said he would be "honoured" to meet the North's leader, Kim Jong Un, under the right conditions.

Weeks earlier, however, North Korea had warned the US it was "ready to hit back with nuclear attacks" if provoked, as the countries seemingly moved closer to a direct confrontation.

The warning came as the country celebrated the 105th anniversary of the birth of founding father Kim Il Sung and displayed what appear to be new submarine-based and long-range missiles in a huge military parade - at the same time as a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier group made its way towards the region.

In total, North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests in defiance of UN and US sanctions and is also developing long-range missiles to deliver atomic weapons.

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