01:01 GMT17 January 2021
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    Remarks recently made by Stephen Biegun, the US special envoy for North Korea, at a Stanford University event suggest US discussions with North Korea intended to help normalize relations could be fruitful, Hyun Lee, a member of the Solidarity Committee For Democracy and Peace in Korea, told Sputnik.

    "His remarks gave me lots of hope for the upcoming talks," Lee told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Tuesday. "He basically said that the Korean War is over as far as he is concerned, as far as the US is concerned. And that these talks are, of course, about denuclearization, but they're bigger than that… that it's about establishing new relations between the US and North Korea."

    "This is exactly what we've been talking about for the past year… that the outcome of these talks needs to lead to lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula [and] normalization of relations," she added.

    Last week, Biegun joined Robert Carlin, a specialist on US-North Korean relations, at Stanford University to discuss potential opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in talks with North Korea.

    "With the completion of denuclearization, we are prepared to explore with North Korea and many other countries the best way to mobilize investment, improve infrastructure, enhance food security and drive a level of economic engagement that will allow the North Korean people to fully share in the rich future of their Asian neighbors," Biegun said at the event.

    "This prosperity, along with the denuclearization and peace, lies at the core of President Trump's vision for US-North Korea relations."

    The diplomat also highlighted the significance of Pyongyang's efforts to work with US officials, stating that its release of American detainees and return of human remains of US soldiers killed during the Korean War is "every bit as important" as other concessions.

    Lee told host Brian Becker that the historical context behind the years-long conflict between both countries needs to be understood, noting that it was Washington that first introduced nuclear weapons on the peninsula in the early 1950s.

    "North Korea has always consistently maintained that the reason for its nuclear weapons program was to create a deterrence against the threat of attacks by the United States," she said, reflecting on US-South Korea joint military exercises that have simulated attacks on the North.

    "What needs to be done through these peace talks is not only what is agreed to in formal agreements, but what also needs to happen is a process of normalization by which the political leadership in Washington and the public in the United States start to shift their thinking around the relationship between the US and North Korea," Lee stressed.

    "Seventy years of this Cold War frame has not benefited any party… it's much more beneficial for all parties to move toward peace and normal relations."

    Biegun's speech came on the same day that the US Department of State announced he would be traveling to Seoul and Pyongyang for preparatory talks ahead of an upcoming second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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