United States envoy quits as North Korea talks seem more likely

There was another uptick of optimism at the end of the Games when visiting North Korea official Kim Yong-chol told South Korean President Moon that Pyongyang remained open to talks with the U.S.

-North Korea talks before joint military exercises between the US and South Korea resume in April, Kang said that anything is possible but it's hard to say now that the talks will be held. But diplomatic sources said the move may reflect frustration over the Trump White House's perceived undercutting of the diplomatic efforts of the department. "Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson has told me he appreciates my service and did not want me to go, but he accepts it reluctantly".

"If the United States ignores our honest efforts for improving inter-Korean relations. but prefers provocation and confrontation, the DPRK will certainly respond", Han said, using an acronym for the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

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His departure comes amid glimmers of hope for a diplomatic opening between Pyongyang and Washington.

Experts described Yun as one of the few USA officials with experience dealing at a senior level with North Korea.

"After all, the core of the Korean Peninsula issue is about security, and the USA and [North Korea] hold the key to solving the issue", Lu said. "Trump should explore ways to hold talks with North Korea if he wants to avoid armed conflicts with the nuclear-armed North".

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Yun told CNN "it was completely my decision to retire at this time", but he declined to comment to Reuters when asked in an email why he was leaving. There were reports that a limited strike was under consideration to counter the North's nuclear threat. "He is joining a large exodus of senior State Department officials who will be hard to replace".

Another hostile step by the North, such as conducting another intercontinental ballistic missile test, would increase the chances of a USA military response. They predicted his departure will add to doubts about USA willingness to conduct diplomacy with Pyongyang, while compounding the depletion of the State Department's top ranks since Trump took office.

Washington has maintained that talks would be possible but only under the right conditions, reiterating its maximum pressure policy. Trump has warned Pyongyang of "phase two" if sanctions do not work.

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