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US, S. Korea Optimistic About Further Talks with N. Korea


The United States and South Korea are optimistic that there will be a second round of talks on the nuclear standoff in North Korea, despite Pyongyang's stance not to resume talks unless the United States makes concessions.

The United States and its key Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, are hopeful that another round of six-way talks on North Korea's nuclear arms program will take place, despite Pyongyang backing away from the negotiating table.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon on Tuesday told the United Nations General Assembly that his government had no interest in further talks until the United States takes "simultaneous action" to meet its demands for a non-aggression pact, economic assistance and diplomatic relations.

"We understand that the United States is interested in disarming and destroying our nation through the multilateral talks rather than seeking peace," said Mr. Choe.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, speaking to reporters in Tokyo, said he was "a little disappointed with the speech" made by Mr. Choe of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK. But, he added, a second round of talks in November is a possibility.

"We're a little disappointed that the speech the DPRK vice minister made at the United Nations," Mr. Kelly said. "It's a little different from what we recalled and we will continue to try to make sure that the North Korean side understands that the best way to security in the future is not through nuclear weapons."

In Seoul, President Roh Moo-hyun, speaking to members of the country's armed forces, said he expects more talks to be held soon. He said resolving the North Korean nuclear issue is key to gaining confidence among those looking to increase investment in South Korea.

A first round of talks involving six nations concerning North Korea's apparent nuclear weapons program were held in August. Three of the parties -- the United States, Japan and South Korea -- held two days of discussions Monday and Tuesday in Tokyo.

Those talks about what to do concerning North Korea were described as informal brainstorming sessions to discuss scenarios for future multilateral negotiations.

Japan's Kyodo news agency says, at the same time, a top North Korean negotiator, Li Gun, was talking with the representatives from the three countries in New York.

South Korea on Wednesday celebrated the 55th anniversary of its armed forces with the first military parade in Seoul in five years.

South Korea has nearly 700,000 forces in military uniform, backed up by 37,000 U.S. troops. They face more than a million North Korean troops, many deployed near the demilitarized zone that bisects the Korean peninsula.

Tension has been high on the peninsula since a year ago when Washington accused Pyongyang of violating a 1994 agreement by running a covert nuclear weapons program.

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