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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid