U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on Monday that the United States will sustain pressure on North Korea until Pyongyang changes course, while his South Korean counterpart urged China to persuade the North not to resume nuclear tests.
"Until the dictatorship in Pyongyang changes direction, we will maintain pressure," Blinken told reporters, referring to international sanctions led by the United States against North Korea.
Following a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, Blinken told reporters that the U.S. remained open to dialogue with North Korea, but Pyongyang had disregarded the calls and instead conducted missile tests and made preparations to resume nuclear testing.
Park stated that any North Korean provocation, including a nuclear test, would be faced with a unified and forceful response, and he asked China to exercise its influence.
North Korea, according to Park, might conduct a nuclear test and isolate itself, or it could return to diplomacy and engagement.
"I also believe that China should play a very good role in persuading North Korea that maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula demands a change in their mentality," he said.
Park stated that he and Blinken had agreed to the early reactivation of an extended deterrence working group, a policy body that deals with the South Korean-protecting U.S. nuclear umbrella.
He stated that the organization is responsible for the deployment of strategic assets as appropriate, but did not clarify. Blinken stated Washington was willing to make both short-term and long-term adjustments to its military posture as needed.
Blinken said he anticipated the working group to resume operations in the coming weeks and that Washington and Seoul were committed to discussing ways to extend the scope of their joint military exercises.
Blinken stated that the United States had taken note of the appointment of North Korea's first female foreign minister, nuclear negotiator Choe Son Hui, last week, but stressed that the U.S. approach to a country is based on its policies and not its persons.
Blinken added that the United States will continue to impose penalties on Chinese and Russian individuals and organizations who support North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.
China's U.N. envoy said that Beijing does not want to see another North Korean nuclear test, which is part of the reason why it blocked the U.S.-led effort to impose new U.N. penalties on Pyongyang for renewed ballistic missile launches.