News / Asia

US, North Korea 'Narrow Differences' in Geneva Talks

U.S. top envoy on Pyongyang, Stephen Bosworth appears for a short statement outside the U.S. mission in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011.
U.S. top envoy on Pyongyang, Stephen Bosworth appears for a short statement outside the U.S. mission in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011.

The State Department said Tuesday U.S. and North Korean officials narrowed their differences on resuming Chinese-sponsored six-party negotiations on Pyongyang’s nuclear program in a two-day set of talks in Geneva. But, U.S. officials say there were no breakthroughs and that the process will take some time.

Officials are expressing cautious optimism about the results of the Geneva meetings, but say it could take months to find out if North Korea is willing to take the “concrete” steps needed to re-start the nuclear talks.

In the latest sign of an improved atmosphere between North Korea and other parties in the stalled six-way negotiations, senior U.S. and North Korean diplomats met behind closed doors for two days of meetings in Geneva.

U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth said the sides narrowed some differences and that the tone was positive and generally constructive.

His North Korean counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan sounded more upbeat, citing “big improvements” in some areas and saying remaining differences will be solved when the sides meet again.

Briefing reporters, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said there were no breakthroughs and that it might take some time to learn if North Korea is prepared to do what is needed to revive the six-party talks.

“We’ve narrowed the differences but there is quite a bit of work still to do," she said. "I think you know where we have been on the six-party talks. First, that the north-south dialogue needs to continue and second that we need to see real concrete steps, concrete commitments by the North Koreans on their nuclear obligations.”

A senior U.S. official said the North Korean team was given detailed proposals to take back to the leadership in Pyongyang and that given its track record on such issues, it will probably be a matter of weeks if not months before a decision is made.

North Korea agreed in principle in 2005 to scrap its nuclear program including a presumed small stockpile of weapons in return for aid and diplomatic incentives from other members of the six-party talks-Japan, Russia, South Korea, the United States and host China.

But Pyongyang walked out of the talks in 2009 and later conducted a second nuclear test.

North-South Korean relations went into a tail-spin last year with the sinking of a South Korean navy ship blamed on the north and the North Korean shelling of a southern coastal island.

John Park, senior program officer for Northeast Asia of the U.S. Institute of Peace, the USIP, says efforts to get North Korea back into the negotiating process are aimed in part at preventing a return to aggressive behavior by Pyongyang.

“One of the big motivations now is to try to engage North Korea in some kind of talks as a way to prevent future provocations," he said. "That thesis, I think, is being implemented right now to a certain degree. Certainly there are other factors involved as well. But in terms of taking a pro-active stance in terms of trying to prevent a recurrence of provocation like last year, this type of negotiating or engaging with North Korea is seen as an important element of that.”

The USIP’s Park says North Korea is being heavily “courted” amid a sense of urgency by China and others that the longer the six-party process is stalemated, the less chance there is of getting it going again.

U.S. spokeswoman Nuland said the Geneva meetings included North Korea’s request for international food aid to cope with shortages attributed to floods and mismanagement.

She said whether the United States, the largest single food donor to North Korea since the 1990s, provides new aid depends on a U.S. needs assessment and competing demand for famine relief elsewhere including the Horn of Africa.

Nuland said Washington also wants terms assuring that any aid reaches North Koreans truly in need, and she dismissed charges by some aid groups that a U.S. decision is being held up for political reasons.

“We reject those assertions. We do not connect these issues," she said. "And were we to go forward, we would have to have significant and detailed discussions about monitoring, which we have not yet had.”

Nuland said U.S. North Korea envoy Bosworth will step down and return full-time to his academic post at Tufts University near Boston after returning to Washington and briefing administration officials on the Geneva meetings.

Bosworth was accompanied there by veteran diplomat Glyn Davies, outgoing U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, who has been named to the North Korea post.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More