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South Korea Encourages U.S.-North Korea Talks - 2003-03-12

South Korea’s foreign minister says the United States should consider some form of direct talks with North Korea to resolve tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear program. Yoon Young-Kwan says Seoul’s supports Washington’s calls for multi-lateral talks, but direct talks may still be needed.

Robert Raffaele has the more on the North Korea situation.

U.S. ambassador to South Korea Thomas Hubbard says recent aggressive actions by North Korea make the need for dialogue on the nuclear issue even more urgent.

In a speech Wednesday in Seoul, Mr. Hubbard said the North’s activities in recent months suggest that a reprocessing plant near the Yongbyon nuclear reactor has been restarted.

A recent satellite photo showed a smoke plume coming from the Yongbyon reactor.

But Mr. Hubbard said he could not confirm whether the nearby plant had been actually reactivated.

He also repeated the Bush administration’s stance that other nations must join its efforts to resolve the escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

“Because other nations have much to lose from North Korea’s dangerous actions, the challenge to regional and global peace and stability concerns us all, and must be met by a combination of combined states. That’s why the United States has emphasized the need for a multilateral approach to resolving this issue.”

At a military academy graduation ceremony in Seoul on Tuesday, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun said his nation’s alliance with Washington must remain strong to keep the peace on the peninsula.

He added that, in his words, ‘we cannot hope to dream about prosperity in a land of Cold War tension.”

South Korea’s foreign minister says President Roh will likely visit Washington for talks with President George W. Bush as early as next month.