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Obama Tells NK `No Nuke Dismantlement, No Dialogue`

Posted August. 07, 2009 08:19,   


U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday ruled out talks with North Korea if Pyongyang does not give up its nuclear program despite North Korea’s release of two American journalists.

“We were very clear that this was a humanitarian mission,” he told NBC in an interview. “We have said to the North Koreans there is a path for improved relations, and it involves them no longer developing nuclear weapons and not engaging in the provocative behavior that they’ve been engaging in.”

The Obama administration has apparently put particular emphasis on this principle to prevent sending the wrong message to North Korea or disrupting international efforts for sanctions against the communist country.

On if former President Bill Clinton’s visit to North Korea might lead to a breakthrough in engagement with North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also told NBC, “It’s not something we’re counting on.”

She said she hopes Pyongyang will “make the right choice.”

The White House and the State Department also gave news briefings in the same tone, saying there is no change in the dire situation.

One informed source said, “Sending a special envoy for the journalists’ release had been discussed since before the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum in mid-July. The Obama administration’s position has been consistent since that time.”

Experts, however, say strained Pyongyang-Washington relations could soon see a thaw. Signs have appeared that the North Korean leadership has sought bilateral dialogue for several weeks. Washington also believes that Pyongyang’s typical cycle is to commit provocation after provocation, followed by dialogue and then by further provocations.

What Bill Clinton will bring to Obama is fueling speculation. Administration officials told the Wall Street Journal that Bill Clinton and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il discussed many issues, including incentives to get Pyongyang to resolve the fates of South Koreans and Japanese being held in North Korea.

The possibility that Kim suggested a summit with Obama also cannot be ruled out.

Obama also told a news conference that Bill Clinton would have made interesting observations while in Pyongyang.

Administration sources told the Wall Street Journal that while Obama will reject giving compensation to North Korea for belatedly keeping its promises, he can allow high-level direct contact to deal with the nuclear issue.