Pentagon chief hopeful for restarting diplomacy with North Korea, but stands ready

# 20:30
20 December 2019

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that he remains hopeful the United States can restart diplomacy with North Korea, as the clock ticks down to North Korea’s declared year-end deadline for new U.S. concessions in talks over its nuclear arsenal, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Tension has been rising in recent weeks as Pyongyang has conducted a series of weapons tests and waged a war of words with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“I remain hopeful that we could again get the process started again and remain on the diplomatic path,” Esper told reporters at the Pentagon during a briefing.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng met U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun on Friday.

Esper also noted that along with supporting diplomats, he must “ensure the we are in a high state of readiness, prepared to fight and win, tonight if need be. And I’m confident in that.”

“We are prepared for whatever,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said during the same briefing, but declined to discuss specific intelligence.