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NK Leader Considers Return to 6-Way Nuke Talks

Posted October. 07, 2009 07:28,   


North Korean leader Kim Jong Il will consider North Korea’s return to the six-way nuclear talks after seeing the results of bilateral dialogue with the U.S., North Korean media said yesterday.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Kim hinted at the possibility of Pyongyang’s conditional return to the six-way talks in a meeting with visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Monday.

Kim said, “We are willing to pursue multilateral talks after seeing the result of bilateral talks with the U.S.,” adding, “The multilateral talks include the six-party talks.”

He reiterated, however, Pyongyang’s earlier stance by suggesting conditions for a return to the six-way talks, including a change in hostile North Korea-U.S. relations to peaceful ties through bilateral dialogue.

Through his comments, Kim apparently indicated that his government will use bilateral talks with the U.S. as an occasion for direct dialogue with Washington, rather than a simple preliminary step toward its return to the six-way dialogue.

In his Sept. 18 meeting with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo in Pyongyang, Kim also said, “I hope to resolve (the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula) through bilateral and multilateral talks.”

Over in South Korea, the government took a wait-and-see stance and declined making an official response.

A presidential aide said, “We cannot afford to comment at this point,” adding, “The North’s hint at its possible return to the six-party talks is positive, but we cannot say the situation has changed since Pyongyang has suggested bilateral talks with Washington as a precondition.”

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in a news release, “There is consensus among the five parties that the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula remains the core objective and essential goal of our engagement with North Korea. The nations also agree that the six-party process is the best mechanism for achieving denuclearization and that we remain committed to the full implementation.”

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told the Hong Kong satellite channel Phoenix TV in Pyongyang yesterday that North Korea-U.S. talks will not replace the six-way dialogue.

“However, China will play a proactive role in the conduct of the Pyongyang-Washington talks,” Qin added.

Chinese Premier Wen watched the Arirang Mass Games at the Rungnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang with Kim Monday afternoon, with more than 150,000 spectators applauding.

Wen also attended the closing ceremony of the “North Korea-China Friendship Year." He concluded his three-day visit to North Korea by visiting a farm in Pyongyang yesterday morning before returning to Beijing.

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