North Korea calls for "early" resumption of six-party nuclear talks

Updated On: Aug 01, 2011

North Korea wants "early resumption" of six-party nuclear negotiations, following "constructive" talks with the United States last week.

After North Korea and the US met on Thursday and Friday, there was no clear indication that negotiations would continue.

But on Monday, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman told the country's official KCNA news agency that the North "remains unchanged in its stand to resume the six-party talks without preconditions".

He said the government was also ready to fulfil commitments it signed up to in 2005 to end its nuclear programme in return for energy and economic aid.

Six-party talks involving North and South Korea, the US, Russia, China and Japan were last held in late 2008. But the talks collapsed when North Korea pulled out in April 2009, shortly before carrying out a second nuclear test.

Since 2009, there has been little contact with North Korea. But earlier this month, representatives from both North and South Korea met in Bali on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum.

The surprise Bali meeting was followed by discussions last Thursday and Friday between the US and North Korea at the United Nations in New York. Last week, the US said the "path is open" to better relations if the North shows a firm commitment to disarmament efforts.

Report: North Korea 'keen' for six-party nuclear talks [BBC News, 1 August 2011]

Commenting on last week's talks, the North's spokesman hailed the "in-depth discussion" on improving bilateral relations, ensuring stability on the Korean peninsula and resuming the six-party talks, calling the meetings a "sincere and constructive" atmosphere.

"Both sides recognised that the improvement of the bilateral relations and the peaceful negotiated settlement of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula conform with the interests of the two sides and agreed to further dialogue," the spokesman said.

North Korea agreed in principle in 2005 to scrap its atomic weapons programme in return for economic aid and major security and diplomatic benefits. But the agreement eventually broke down, amid accusations of bad faith by both sides.

The North's deadly artillery attack last November on a South Korean island further complicated efforts to restart dialogue. About the same time, the North also revealed an apparently operational uranium enrichment plant at its Yongbyon atomic complex to visiting US experts.

Pyongyang says its new operation is intended to fuel a nuclear power plant, but senior US and other officials fear it could easily be reconfigured to produce weapons-grade uranium to augment the country's plutonium stockpile. North Korea is believed to have enough plutonium for six to eight atomic bombs.

Report: N. Korea wants early six-party nuclear talks [AFP, 1 August 2011]

Report: Pyongyang Seeks Return to Talks, 2005 Nuclear Agreement [Voice of America, 1 August 2011]

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