U.S. intelligence chiefs wary of reported North Korea offer

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said on Tuesday that Washington would have to know far more before assessing North Korea’s reported willingness to hold talks with the United States on denuclearization.

“Hope springs eternal but we need to learn a lot more relative to these talks. And we will. And the IC (intelligence community) will continue to do every possible collection and assessment we can relative to the situation in North Korea. I know we’ll be talking about that issue,” Coats told a U.S. Senate Armed Services hearing on worldwide threats.

North Korea is willing to hold talks with the United States on denuclearization and will suspend nuclear tests while those talks are under way, South Korea said on Tuesday after a delegation returned from the North where it met leader Kim Jong Un.

The director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Robert Ashley, told the same Senate hearing that he did not share a sense of optimism about the report and wanted to know more.

“Right now I don’t share your optimism,” Ashley said in response to a question from a senator. “That’s kind of a ‘show me,’ and so we’ll see how this plays out,” Ashley added.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Will Dunham