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Former Envoy Says US Should Engage North Korea

Stephen Bosworth (file photo)

Stephen Bosworth (file photo)

The Obama administration's former special envoy to North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, says the United States should try to engage with Pyongyang to encourage a return to negotiations, even as the reclusive state goes through a secretive leadership transition.

In an interview with VOA's Korean service, Bosworth says it is important for North Korea to be connected to the outside world as it prepares to make Kim Jong Un the official successor to his father, Kim Jong Il, who died Saturday at age 69. Bosworth says one of the foreign connections that matters most to Pyongyang is with the United States. The two nations do not have diplomatic relations.

Bosworth stepped down as President Barack Obama's special envoy on North Korea policy in October, after two years in the post.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Wednesday said the Obama administration is monitoring events in North Korea closely. He said Washington hopes the new leadership will support peace and prosperity for the North Korean people and abide by commitments to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

U.S. officials have held several rounds of informal talks with North Korea since June, but it is not clear when the two sides will meet again. The United States has been trying to persuade North Korea to rejoin six-party negotiations in which regional powers have called for Pyongyang to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons in return for diplomatic and other incentives.

Bosworth says the United States should adopt a "patient" and "positive" approach toward North Korea as long as Pyongyang provides evidence that it is willing to treat U.S. requests in a "serious manner."