December 17, 2010 11:52
North Korea on Thursday made its most explicit play for dialogue with the U.S. yet, adding it "will not beg" for the resumption of six-party nuclear talks but carry on nuclear development.
"Although we support all proposals for dialogue including the six-party talks, we will never beg for it," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman told the official Korean Central News Agency. "By adding various conditions, the U.S. is avoiding all suggestions for talks while concentrating on escalating tensions in the Korean Peninsula."
He added the North's "voluntary and independent building of light-water facilities and production of enriched uranium for fuel are peaceful activities for power production."
North Korea has been angling for dialogue with the U.S. since it launched a series of provocations, the latest being the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last month. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told visiting Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo on Dec. 9 that he is "willing to consider" allowing inspection of the country's nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency. He has also invited New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who arrived Thursday.
A South Korean intelligence official said, "North Korea is trying to earn a reward for the provocations after laying the ground for the resumption of the six-party talks" by unveiling a uranium enrichment facility to a visiting U.S. expert last month.
The IAEA inspections are one of five conditions set out by South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. if the talks are to resume. Richardson appeared on CNN before embarking on his trip from Beijing on Thursday and said the North "will probably want to deliver a message through me." He said his hope is "to bring down the temperature" on the Korean Peninsula by "trying to persuade the North to curtail their aggressive behavior" and see if "some kind of negotiation" is possible.
In another sign that it is getting desperate for U.S. attention, North Korea allowed a CNN anchor to accompany Richardson.
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