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Talks with North Korea Must be Within 6-Party Framework, White House Says

The White House says there will be no direct talks with North Korea over ending its nuclear weapons program, unless such talks occur within the framework of broader regional negotiations. A North Korean diplomat at the United Nations says direct talks with the United States would show that Washington is changing what he called its "hostile policy" toward North Korea.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan says there will be no direct talks outside a six-nation diplomatic initiative because the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons is a regional issue, not an issue between Pyongyang and Washington.

Within those six-party talks, Mr. McClellan says, there is plenty of opportunity to speak directly, as there has been in the past.

The Bush administration is trying to keep the focus on those six-party talks involving the United States, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia because President Bush believes that is the best chance for a binding agreement ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Mr. McClellan says there were direct talks in the past, resulting in a 1994 agreement between the United States and North Korea that North Korea violated by continuing to pursue nuclear weapons.

North Korea announced Thursday that is has nuclear weapons and is suspending its participation in the six-party talks.