North Korea Calls for Return to Six-Party Talks on Unconditional Basis

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 18, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

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.

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