US in back channel talks with North Korea, Bishop says

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Updated

October 13, 2017 13:49:14

The United States has developed “advanced” methods of communicating with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs, according to Australia’s Foreign Minister.

Key points:

  • Julie Bishop says US is having back channel talks with Pyongyang
  • Donald Trump has previously said not worth wasting time negotiating with North Korea
  • Australia won’t be sending delegation to the rogue state

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has revealed the US is in direct communication with Pyongyang, but President Donald Trump has told him not to waste his time trying to negotiate with leader Kim Jong-un.

But Julie Bishop has now effectively ruled out sending an Australian delegation to the rogue state, confirming the US is having some success communicating with it.

“I believe that the United States is rather advanced in its back channelling with North Korea,” Ms Bishop said.

Earlier this month, Mr Tillerson disclosed Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue, in the first Trump administration acknowledgment it was in direct communication with North Korea.

Ms Bishop has dismissed suggestions Australia’s embassy in Pyongyang, which has been closed since 1974, could be reopened.

“We work with other countries who do have a presence in Pyongyang, but I believe they have limited success in engaging with the regime,” she said.

Concerns missile test imminent

Ms Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne are visiting South Korean counterparts this week, to address the North’s pursuit of its nuclear and missile programs.

The Foreign Minister said there were real concerns North Korea may use a meeting of senior Chinese officials next week for another missile test.

The 19th Communist Party Congress will be held in Beijing next Wednesday and delegates will decide government policy and elect officials to run the country for the next five years.

“North Korea may use that opportunity to further embarrass China by having another nuclear test or letting off another ballistic missile,” Ms Bishop told Sky News.

“There seems to be some pattern to North Korea’s behaviour in having these illegal tests at the same time China is showcasing their nation on the world stage.”

Topics:

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First posted

October 13, 2017 13:46:56



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