A high-ranking North Korean official on Wednesday said his government wants to reinvigorate multinational negotiations over its nuclear-weapons program, but only if there are no preconditions, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Wednesday.
“We are ready to enter the six-party talks without preconditions,” First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said at a Beijing conference focused on reviving the nuclear negotiations.
“Attaching preconditions to our offer of dialogue would cause mistrust,” said Kim, the North’s senior nuclear negotiator.
The six-nation talks encompass China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States, which last held formal talks in December 2008. In the years since, Pyongyang has dramatically advanced its nuclear-weapons work, carrying out several long-range missile tests, detonating two atomic devices and expanding its fissile-material production capabilities.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo say they are not interested in returning to the aid-for-denuclearization negotiations with the North until it first makes a concrete demonstration of its willingness to permanently end its nuclear-weapons development. North Korea objects to any such conditions being placed around negotiations.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday told the conference the nuclear negotiations should quickly be resumed, Yonhap separately reported.
The ministry organized the forum in the hopes that all six-party participants would send their nuclear negotiators for semi-formal talks around options for reinvigorating the dialogue. However, Japan, South Korea and the United States declined to send senior officials.
The U.S. embassy in Beijing sent an official to observe the proceedings, the Associated Press reported.
Beijing reportedly has floated a proposal to Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to offer Pyongyang some new nonaggression assurances. However, the three allies have responded coolly to the idea, according to Kyodo News.
North Korea justifies its nuclear-weapons work by maintaining it is threatened by the much-greater U.S. arsenal, as well as the United States’ military alliances with Japan and South Korea.