News / Asia

North Korea Proposes Talks with US

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— North Korea's authoritative National Defense Commission says there should be unconditional high level talks with the United States.

In Washington, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the United States is open to "credible negotiations" with North Korea, but Pyongyang must comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions and agree to denuclearization.

She said the U.S. will "judge North Korea by its actions, and not its words."

This comes following previous vows by Pyongyang to attack the United States and South Korea with nuclear weapons, threats not taken seriously during a period of escalated bellicose rhetoric from North Korea.

The North Korean proposal, released Sunday morning Korea time, was introduced by announcers on state broadcasting as an “important announcement.”

A North Korean television announcer said “if the United States has true intent on defusing tensions on the Korean peninsula and ensuring peace and stability on the U.S. mainland and the region, it should not raise preconditions for dialogue and contact.”

There was no immediate response from the White House.

The initial reaction from analysts in Seoul is that the United States is unlikely to respond positively.

Pyongyang's proposal repeats its long-standing assertion that dismantling its nuclear weapons programs would be on the table only as part of wider talks to denuclearize the region, namely removing the U.S. nuclear umbrella from the Asia-Pacific region.

At the International Crisis Group, deputy director for Northeast Asia, Daniel Pinkston, reacting on the Twitter social messaging service, said North Korea “really went overboard to ensure the offer would be rejected."

U.S. officials repeatedly have said North Korea needs to demonstrate sincerity about dialogue. Analysts say before any talks could begin North Korea would need to show willingness to bargain in good faith by implementing commitments and previous agreements it has made regarding its nuclear programs.

Pyongyang is under international sanctions for its continuing development of technology that could one day allow it to place miniaturized nuclear weapons atop a ballistic missile that would be capable of striking targets across the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea, in its talks proposal, characterizes those sanctions as “gangster-like” and “masterminded” by the United States.

North Korea, less than two weeks ago, offered to engage in talks with the rival South. Pyongyang also said it would leave the venue and date up to Seoul.

Working-level talks were quickly arranged to discuss the offer. But one day before the scheduled rare high-level talks in Seoul, North Korea said it would not send its delegation. The two Koreas could not agree on the names submitted by the other for the leaders of their respective delegations.

South Korea's semi-official news agency quotes a source in the governing Saenuri Party in Seoul saying North Korea last month asked China for recognition as a nuclear weapons state. The source, according to Yonhap, claims North Korea's Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae made the request during a meeting in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

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Comment Sorting
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by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
June 16, 2013 8:54 PM
Can President Obama dance to the tune of the northern light, I mean the irrational baby dictator of DPRK?

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