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US objective remains complete denuclearization of Korean Peninsula: State Dept.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) speaks during a military parade at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang on Monday, to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of its army, in this photo released the next day by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. (KCNA)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) speaks during a military parade at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang on Monday, to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of its army, in this photo released the next day by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. (KCNA)

WASHINGTON -- The United States' objective remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a state department spokesperson said Tuesday, despite North Korea's pledge to further strengthen its nuclear capabilities.

Ned Price also reiterated the US holds no hostility toward the North, urging the reclusive country to return to dialogue.

"Our goal remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,:" the department press secretary said in a press briefing.

The remarks come after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his country will work to strengthen its nuclear capabilities at the "fastest possible speed."

Kim made the remarks during a massive military parade held in Pyongyang on Monday (Seoul time) where the North showcased a wide range of weapons of mass destruction, including a new "giant" intercontinental ballistic missile, known as the Hwasong-17.

"We are aware of what he (Kim) said. It reiterates our assessment that the DPRK constitutes a threat to international peace and security and to the global nonproliferation regime," Price said.

His view was echoed by a spokesperson for the US Department of Defense (DoD), who said the US will adopt an approach that works while dealing with North Korea.

"The DoD and US government will assess the threat North Korea poses and adopt an approach that works in close coordination with allies and partners to address it," the department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency in an emailed response to questions regarding the North Korean leaders' remarks.

The state department has consistently vowed to engage with North Korea in diplomacy and dialogue since the Joe Biden administration took office in January 2021.

Pyongyang, however, remains unresponsive to all US overtures while avoiding denuclearization talks with the US since late 2019.

Price reaffirmed US commitment to engage with North Korea.

"We harbor no hostile intent toward the DPRK. We do remain open to engaging in diplomacy and dialogue with the DPRK with an aim of achieving progress towards that overall objective," he told the press briefing.

DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The US will still continue to hold North Korea accountable for its recent provocations, according to Price.

"But we also have an obligation to address the recent provocations that we have seen from the DPRK, including its two recent ICBM launches," he said.

"We have an obligation to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolutions that are in place. Those are obligations that we'll continue to work on very closely with our allies in the region, with our partners in the region and with our allies and partners at the U.N.," added Price.

He also reaffirmed US commitment to the defense of South Korea and other US allies.

"We have a vital interest together with our allies and partners around the world but especially those in the Indo-Pacific to deter the DPRK, to defend against its provocations or its use of force, to limit the reach of its most dangerous weapons programs, and above all, to keep safe American people in the region, our deployed forces and our allies, Japan and the ROK," he said, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea. (Yonhap)

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