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`N. Korea-US Talks Are Not Imminent`

Posted September. 26, 2009 07:51,   


A South Korean official yesterday denied speculation that bilateral talks between North Korea and the U.S. are imminent.

Visiting the U.S., the unnamed official said he consulted with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, and special envoy for the six-party talks Sung Kim.

“Washington hasn’t been in a hurry from the beginning and feels no need to hasten bilateral talks with Pyongyang,” the official said. “Additional contact between the two countries is expected to happen within a month or two.”

“The two-track approach, which implements sanctions and seek dialogue at the same time, and efforts are also being made to avoid sending the wrong signals to North Korea and get it back to the six-party talks.”

The official added, “The bilateral contact is not for full-fledged negotiations between the two countries. We will make it clear that internationals sanctions must continue even if bilateral talks begin.”

Saying South Korea seeks productive dialogue, he also mentioned cooperation among five of the parties to the six-way nuclear talks, adding the “grand bargain” suggested by President Lee Myung-bak is part of such efforts.

“Since the 2005 joint declaration of the six-party talks in 2005 is not a roadmap but a kind of statement showing the will of the six parties, efforts are needed for a conclusive agreement to resolve the North Korean nuclear program in a complete manner,” the official said.

“This also signals a break with the past negotiation pattern in which North Korea began new negotiations after reneging on an agreement reached the previous year.”

Saying the 2007 agreement failed to mention North Korea’s nuclear weapons, he said, “South Korea and the United States are adamant on refusing dialogue that has no end.”

On the comment by Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo last week that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is willing to hold bilateral and multilateral talks on his country’s nuclear program, the official said, “We’re trying to discern Kim’s true intent since his comments seemed to be cited out of context.”