The withdrawal of North Korea from participating in this year’s Summer Olympics seemed to be in tune with its stringent efforts against the virus, said the U.S. State Department’s spokesperson on Tuesday.
“We are aware of reports that North Korea has decided not to participate in the Summer Olympics, which would appear consistent, in fact, with the DPRK’s stringent response to COVID-19,” said Ned Price in a regular press conference, using the official name of the North, DPRK or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The spokesperson’s comments were aired a day after North Korea announced its decision to not attend the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, citing its guard for its delegation from “the global health crisis situation related to the coronavirus.”
Since early May last year, the North’s capital Pyongyang has closely protected its border.
Several North Korea observers and health practitioners say the new virus outbreak in the secluded state would be worse as compared to other parts of the world.
North Korea’s withdrawal from the games were decided despite the hopes that the activity can pave a way for Seoul and the allied countries to connect with the North.
Denuclearization talks with the secluded state have been stalled since the summit between North’s leader Kim Jong-un and then U.S. President Donald Trump failed to reach an agreement in 2019. The two also have met in 2018 for the same negotiation.
The summit meetings between the two countries came after a meltdown in the ties between the two Koreas, which was bridged by the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Since mid-February, the Joe Biden administration said it attempted to contact the North but it received no response.
Pyongyang insisted that it will not entertain discussions with the U.S. unless it surrenders its “hostile” policies against Pyongyang.
According to Prince, the U.S. will still coordinate with its allies for North Korea’s denuclearization.
Price said the U.S. will continue to work closely with its allies and partners to denuclearize North Korea.
“We will continue to coordinate closely with the Republic of Korea and with Japan on DPRK issues in pursuit of our shared goals of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and across the Indo-Pacific,” Prince said.
“We will continue to focus on reducing the threat to the United States, as well as to our partners, as well as to our treaty allies in the Indo-Pacific, as we remain committed to the principle of denuclearization of North Korea,” he furthered.