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Rumsfeld: “No Rewards For NK”

Posted April. 18, 2003 22:10,   


Senior officials from South Korea, the U.S., and Japan will meet on April 18 at the U.S. State Department to discuss a future course of action regarding the planned trilateral talks on North Korea’s nuclear issue starting from April 23 to April 25 in Beijing.

At the meeting in Washington, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuk, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, and Japan’s Director General of Asian Affairs Mitoji Yabunaka are to exchange government positions and discuss joint measures regarding the scheduled three-way talks.

Spokesman for the U.S. State Department Richard Baucher told reporters at a regular briefing session with regard to the timetable of the three-way meeting, “Although at this moment, it is not clear when the three-way talks will take place, but we expect that the meeting will be held as early as next week.”

The State Department spokesman’s remark can be interpreted that although the U.S. had already agreed on the timing of the meeting with the North, it didn’t elaborate on the timing because it took the North’s situation into account.

On the eve of the planned three-way talks, officials dealing diplomatic issues at the U.S. Embassy in Korea said that the issue of a security guarantee for North Korea would be a top agenda at the meeting. “If North Korea agrees to abandon its nuclear weapons program through a verifiable means, bold measures including generous economic and political assistance from the international community to help people in North Korea will be considered,” the official said.

“It is unimaginable for the U.S. to provide North Korea with reward in return for abandoning its nuclear ambition,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that day. “What might be the most desirable approach to the settlement of North Korea`s nuclear issue is that South Korea, Japan, and China persuade the North into giving up dangerous nuclear weapons programs through diplomatic means.”

Apart from the planned trilateral talks, the South Korean government issued a statement through the Ministry of Unification to urge the North to reopen inter-Korean dialogue to discuss pressing issues including peace on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea suspended a series of inter-Korean dialogue including the 10th round of inter-Korea ministerial-level talks that were supposed to be held on April 7, taking issue with South Korea’s supportive gesture in the wake of the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Li Bin said, appearing on a MBC radio program that “the two central players referring to the North and the US should resolve the nuclear issue. The settlement of the nuclear issue depends on efforts to be made by the two nations. China will make a constructive effort to solve the issue, but doesn’t plan to act as a mediator in addressing the nuclear issue.”