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August 10, 09

NEWS / United States Calls for North Korea to Resume Six-Party Talks

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer

Washington — The United States would be willing to hold one-on-one talks with North Korean officials about North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program and related issues if North Korea resumes participation in the stalled Six-Party Talks, President Obama’s national security adviser said August 9 in several news interviews.

The North Korean regime has indicated it wants a better relationship with the United States and it has always advocated for bilateral engagement — direct talks with U.S. officials — General James Jones said in television news interviews on Fox News Sunday, CBS News’ Face the Nation and NBC News’ Meet the Press.

The Six-Party Talks process — which includes China (the talks’ host), Japan, North and South Korea, Russia and the United States — aims to convince the North Korean regime to abandon plans to develop nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, and accept an internationally recognized verification process. The talks also seek North Korean full disclosure of the aspects of its nuclear weapons program and support it has given to other nations seeking the highly lethal weapons.

“Meaning, if they come back to the talks, we will talk to them bilaterally within those talks,” Jones said. “We have coordinated all of this, by the way, with the other allies — the Chinese, the Russians, the South Koreans, the Japanese. So the path is clear.”

The issue came within the context of former President Clinton’s recent visit to Pyongyang to retrieve two U.S. broadcast journalists who had been taken into custody and tried and convicted of having entered North Korea illegally. Clinton obtained the release of American television journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling following his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Clinton arrived in the capital August 4 on an unannounced visit and met with Kim. Following the meeting with the former president, Kim announced a special pardon for the two American journalists and ordered them released.

The journalists were arrested by soldiers on March 17 near the North Korean border with China. Following a five-day trial, the two were sentenced on June 8 to 12 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison camp for “committing hostilities against the Korean nation and illegal entry.” The two journalists were held in a guest house outside Pyongyang and had not been transferred to the prison camp.

Jones said that Clinton’s trip to Pyongyang was private and he flew there on a chartered passenger plane, paid for by a private citizen.

“We sent no official or unofficial message from our government; there was nothing secretive here,” Jones said.

Clinton met for three and a half hours with Kim and North Korean officials, and Jones said he reportedly discussed the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons programs from the Korean Peninsula. Jones added that there were no special deals or arrangements made between Clinton, the husband of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the North Korean government.


North Korea conducted an underground nuclear explosion on May 25, and also test-fired short-range ballistic missiles from its east coast missile test facility. The U.N. Security Council on May 25 unanimously condemned North Korea’s nuclear test, including strong objections from China and Russia.

And the U.N. Security Council unanimously voted June 12 to impose additional security and economic sanctions and a trade and arms embargo against North Korea for testing a nuclear device and also for testing a long-range ballistic missile.

The resolution was submitted jointly to the Security Council June 10 by the five permanent members of the council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and Japan and South Korea. Significantly, the measure calls on U.N. members to inspect North Korean cargo ships and cargo-laden aircraft to seize and destroy any weapons or materials that are in violation of the U.N.-imposed sanctions.


Tags: secretary of state,


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