North Korea may seek to hold dialogue with the United States sometime one year after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office, a lawmaker said Friday, citing remarks by a high-profile North Korean defector.
Thae Yong-ho, who defected to South Korea in July after serving as a ranking diplomat, made the comment at a parliamentary committee earlier in the day, where he explained the reasons for his defection and life under the country's leader Kim Jong-un.
The North's leader wants his country to be recognized as a nuclear state at the level like Pakistan or India, Thae was quoted as saying by a South Korean lawmaker.
"After being recognized as a nuclear state, North Korea hopes to resolve pending issues through international dialogue," Thae said.
"There will be a presidential election in South Korea (next year). (The North) sees the prime time for talks in the early stage of the new U.S. administration which means late 2017 or early 2018," he added.
North Korea is taking a wait-and-see mode to assess Trump's North Korea policy without making provocative acts.
While on the campaign trail, Trump said that he is willing to talk with the North Korean leader, but experts said that the incoming U.S. administration would continue to apply pressure and sanctions on Pyongyang.
Thae, a former minister at the North Korean embassy in London, has become one of the highest-ranking North Korean officials to come to the South.
Thae began his resettlement process in South Korea earlier in the day, after a monthslong investigation by Seoul's spy agency into reasons for his defection was completed.
He told lawmakers Monday that he fled to South Korea due to his disillusionment with the regimented regime, under which many are living like slaves.