US: Agenda for North Korea Talks 'Quite Narrow'

Talk to be limited to determining whether Pyongyang is willing to return to Chinese-sponsored talks on its nuclear program

David Dyar

A senior State Department official said Monday that the U.S. agenda for talks with North Korea will be limited to determining whether Pyongyang is willing to return to Chinese-sponsored talks on its nuclear program and to reaffirm its 2005 agreement in principle to disarm.  U.S. envoy to North Korea Stephen Bosworth will arrive in Pyongyang on Tuesday for the highest-level bilateral meeting since President Barack Obama took office in January.

There have been press reports that North Korea wants to use the Bosworth visit to pursue its long-standing quest for a peace treaty with Washington that would end the technical state of war that has existed since the Korean conflict of the 1950s.

But a senior State Department official who spoke to reporters on the eve of the U.S. envoy's arrival in Pyongyang says Bosworth has a "quite narrow" agenda in North Korea, to determine whether the communist state will return to disarmament talks and to reaffirm the 2005 framework agreement under which Pyongyang is to scrap its nuclear program -- including weapons, in return for aid and other benefits from world powers.

Bosworth, a retired senior U.S. diplomat is leading an interagency team of U.S. officials to Pyongyang for the highest level bilateral dialogue since the Chinese-sponsored six-party nuclear talks stalled last year.

North Korea said it was quitting the talks after international criticism of a long-range missile test in April that Pyongyang said was a satellite launch.  It conducted its second nuclear test the following month amid belligerent rhetoric, but lately has struck a more conciliatory tone.

The senior official said Bosworth will seek clarity on North Korea's intentions and said that if it wants to return to the negotiations, he is sure China would be ready to reconvene them.

He said that if Pyongyang rejects the resumption of six-party discussions, the other participants would focus on enforcing sanctions under U.N. Security Council resolution 1874, which was approved after North Korea's May 25th nuclear test and consider possible additional penalties.

Earlier, at a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said that if North Korea wants to discuss a peace treaty with Washington or any other issue, it can do so in working groups in the context of renewed six-party talks. "It's a very simple agenda that Stephen Bosworth is going to Pyongyang with.  And that's that we are having these talks to insure a resumption of the six-party talks and to reaffirm the September 2005 joint statement and its goal of a complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," he said.

Bosworth, who goes to Pyongyang from Seoul on Tuesday, met South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan in Seoul on Monday.

After the meetings in North Korea, Bosworth is due to have a quick round of consultations with the other members of the six-party talks in Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo and Moscow before returning to Washington on December 15th.

Spokesman Kelly said Bosworth does not anticipate a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, but has been assured that his team will see appropriate high-level officials in Pyongyang.

The Bosworth team includes the U.S. delegate to the six-party talks, Sung Kim, but not the newly-named U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights, Robert King.

King is taking part in meetings on North Korea this week at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.  On Monday, he urged Pyongyang to allow outside scrutiny of human rights conditions in the reclusive communist state.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs