In a recent semi-official meeting with South Korea and the United States in Helsinki, Finland, North Korea said the six-party talks are "dead," the head of a South Korean state-run think tank said Friday, referring to the long-suspended multilateral forum on denuclearizing the North.
"(North Korea) used the expression 'the six-party talks are dead,'" Jo Dong-ho, president of the Institute for National Security Strategy, said in a press conference, recalling his attendance at the Helsinki meeting last month.
The two-day meeting brought together 18 former government officials and experts from Seoul, Washington and Pyongyang in the Finnish capital late last month for a rare chance to sound out North Korea's policy stances.
It was held ahead of the April 27 summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as well as Kim's planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, which is to be held in May or early June. The six-member North Korean delegation included Choe Kang-il, the acting director-general at the North Korean foreign ministry's bureau for North American affairs.
Asked which North Korean delegate made the remark during the meeting, Jo said he cannot remember. Jo was the head of the South Korean delegation to the 1.5-track dialogue, according to him.
During the meeting, the North Korean side repeatedly expressed worries about the possibility of the planned Kim-Trump summit's cancellation, the president noted.
"The worries are now resolved (with Trump confirming the summit), but at the time of the Helsinki meeting, the North had great worries about 'how to trust Trump and what if they decide not to do the summit,'" Jo said, adding that the North Korean side asked for Seoul's help to make the summit happen.
He said such attitudes possibly point to North Korea's sincerity in making changes. "It's important to seize the chance and make (denuclearization) happen," Jo noted. (Yonhap News)