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North Korea: “We Welcome Christopher Hill’s Visit”

Posted September. 24, 2005 07:12,   


North Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon announced on September 22 (U.S. time) that Pyongyang would welcome U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Asia and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill if he visits the country to resolve the nuclear standoff between the two nations.

Choe, on his visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting, made these remarks to the reporters after his speech at UN Headquarters.

He also seemed to back down from the original position that there would be no dismantlement of nuclear programs without first being given a light-water reactor when he said, “Our demand for a light-water reactor is not a prerequisite to implementing the recently-issued joint statement.”

Choe added, “All issues will be discussed in the follow-up talks (slated for November). Demand for light-water reactor assistance must not hinder making progress on the six-party talk agreements for the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

“All of these issues (including the provision of a light-water reactor) must be addressed simultaneously. North Korea still hopes the U.S. will offer the light-water reactor,” he said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said regarding state assistant secretary Christopher Hill’s visit to Pyongyang, “We don’t have such plans.”

U.S. administration sources, however, said, “Hill has put his career on the line in pushing for negotiations with Pyongyang. He may be viewing the North Korea visit in the same context.”

The sources added, “It would be a loss not to go to the North now that Pyongyang has ‘invited’ us.”

The news also reported that Hill would not exclude the possibility of visiting the North with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Jong sik Kong Jung-Ahn Kim kong@donga.com credo@donga.com