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NK Leader `Will Join Talks on Nuclear Program`

Posted September. 19, 2009 11:47,   


North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has announced plans to participate in multilateral or bilateral talks to resolve his country’s nuclear program, Chinese media reported yesterday.

Xinhua News Agency said in a report filed from Pyongyang that Kim made the comments to Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, who is visiting the North as an envoy of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

“The North will continue to pursue its goal of denuclearization and will strive to preserve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Kim was quoted as saying. “We wish to resolve related problems via bilateral and multilateral talks.”

North Korea’s official Central TV said Dai handed Hu’s personal letter and gift to Kim at a reception attended by North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju, who helped broker the 1994 Agreed Framework with South Korea and the U.S.

Hu also said in his letter, “China as a neighbor constantly pursues the prime policy of attaining the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia. China wishes the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to make all-out efforts to attain this goal.”

“China’s Communist Party and government understand that friendly relations between (Beijing and Pyongyang) are a very valuable asset to not only their two political parties, but also to the two countries and their people.”

This was the third time for Kim to meet with a senior official from a country represented in the six-party nuclear talks since July. He held talks with former U.S. President Bill Clinton Aug. 4 and Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun Aug. 16.

Dai is also the second Chinese official Kim has met since Wang Jiarui, director of the Chinese Communist Party’s international department, whom Kim met in January.

In Seoul, a Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry source said, “We can understand Kim’s real intent only after accurately assessing what he said,” implying a cautious stance.

“The comment will be meaningful if Kim said Pyongyang will come to the negotiating table for bilateral or multilateral talks without precondition,” the source said, adding, “But if he mentioned hostile U.S. policy or halting sanctions, the North has apparently not changed much from its previous stance.”

A senior government official in Seoul also said, “We need to use caution in interpreting the terms North Korea uses,” adding, “We must remember that Pyongyang has never said it will not pursue nuclear dismantlement, and has only claimed that it was forced to develop nuclear weapons and missiles as a self-defense measure to counter what it called Washington’s hostile policy.”