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North Korea Indicates Willingness to Continue Talks on Nuclear Weapons - 2004-06-29

An Indonesian official, after talks with North Korea's foreign minister, says North Korea intends to continue talks over dismantling its nuclear program.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said North Korea wants to resolve the Korean peninsula crisis diplomatically. "North Korea would proceed with this dialogue process with patience, flexibility and the solutions of the substantive problems as a package," he said.

Mr. Wirajuda made the comments Tuesday after meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun. He quoted Mr. Paek as saying the negotiations over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs lack trust.

Last week, North Korea attended a third round of talks with the United States, South Korea, Japan, Russia and China. The U.S. government said it would offer security guarantees to the North and the other nations would pledge aid if Pyongyang abandoned all efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Little progress was made at the talks but the parties agreed to meet again in a few months.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected in Jakarta later in the week for a meeting of the Asia Regional Forum. His presence has led to speculation of a meeting with the North Korea delegation.

However, Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said he knows of no such plans. "The [North Korean] foreign minister disclosed that they are not actively seeking bilaterals [meetings] with any country, but they are open to have meetings with whomever wishes to meet with them," he said.

Mr. Natalegawa said, however, that Mr. Paek will meet with the South Korean foreign minister this week.

Mr. Paek for his part thanked the Indonesians for their concern over the matter. Mr. Paek said he appreciates the Indonesian government's support and understanding for what he called North Korea's reasonable proposal and principled stand on the issue.

Indonesian officials also say they could host a reunion between a Japanese woman who recently returned home after being abducted years ago by North Korea and her American husband, who is still in the North. The man is suspected of deserting the U.S. military almost 40 years ago, and has been unwilling to join his wife in Japan, fearing arrest by U.S. authorities. Japanese officials say they want to meet with North Korea on the matter.

Foreign ministers from Asian and Western nations are in Indonesia for a meeting Wednesday of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Regional security, economic integration and the situation in Burma are high on the agenda.