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North Korea Wants to Skip Steps Toward Amity, Hill Says

Posted March. 08, 2007 06:42,   


The first roundtable talks for the normalization of N.K-U.S. relations closed smoothly.

In particular, the negotiating delegates from both sides expressed their satisfaction with the results of the negotiations, raising expectations for an improved N.K.-U.S. relationship in the future. But during the working group meeting for the normalization of the N.K.-Japan relationship, North Korea laid a new obstacle to the fulfillment of the February 13 agreement by unexpectedly notifying the other side of the suspension of talks.

Assistant Secretary of States for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher R. Hill, after the working group conference with the Vice Foreign Minister of North Korea Kim Kye Kwan for the normalization of relations held at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to the UN in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York, on March 6 (local time), said, “There was a sense of optimism on both sides that we will get through this 60-day period and we will achieve all of our objectives.”

When Vice Minister Kim, meeting the journalists in front of the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, Manhattan, where he is staying, also said, “The atmosphere was very good, constructive and serious.” He added, “For consequences, wait and see. There’d be no fun if it’s all said here.”

At the press conference with the New York foreign correspondents` club in the afternoon on the same day, Assistant Secretary Hill said, “Both sides came to a consensus that it is necessary to handle the highly enriched uranium matter and decided to discuss the measure and hold an expert-level consultation to review this matter. North Korea raised this point first.”

Asked whether it is probable that a liaison office will be established before the formal establishment of N.K.-U.S. diplomatic relations, he answered, “That model was successful in the establishment of U.S.-China relations, but I think it’s not likely to happen here because North Korea considers it unnecessary. North Korea wants to proceed to diplomatic relations (without steps in between).”

“But for this, North Korea should abolish its nuclear programs first,” he stressed.

Regarding the matter of removing North Korea off the list of sponsors of terrorism, he said, “We talked at length on the political and legal sides of the historic reasons why North Korea was listed as one of the sponsors of terrorism. North Korea has a lot to do, which cannot be made open here.”

Assistant Secretary Hill also explained that his future visit to North Korea was mentioned but not agreed to as a specific plan.

The second N.K.-U.S. conference will be held in Beijing right before the six-party talks scheduled on March 19. But during the six-party working group talks to normalize N.K.-Japan relations which started on March 7 in Hanoi, Vietnam, North Korea suddenly notified the Japanese envoys that the talks would be suspended from the afternoon of that day.

According to the online edition of Yomiuri Shimbun, after the conference in the morning the same day Song Il Ho, the North Korean delegate to the N.K.-Japan negotiation, notified the Japanese side that [his side] would not attend the conference in the afternoon.