North Korea should seek better inter-Korean relations before it tries to talk to the U.S., and China should support it, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens said Tuesday.
The envoy was speaking at a seminar hosted by the Kwanhun Club, a group of senior Korean journalists, at the Seoul Press Center on Tuesday, in reply to a member who complained the U.S. position appears to be vague whereas the South Korean government has been demanding an apology from the North for its attacks last year on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island.
"There really is a choice here to be made and... there are actions that North Korea could take to demonstrate it is making a choice towards moving towards everything," she said, apparently referring to the North's desire for one-on-one talks with the U.S. and the resumption of six-party nuclear talks.
Turning to calls for food aid to the North from prominent figures like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, she said Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights, is reviewing evaluations of the food problem in the North by the World Food Programme and American NGOs. A decision on food aid will be made taking into consideration its needs, the principle of fairness among countries, and monitoring of food distribution.
The North Korean issue and the implementation of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement are two factors that will determine the Seoul-Washington relations for the next generation, she added. She expressed confidence that ratification of the much-delayed FTA is just around the corner.
Asked if she feels uncomfortable in her job after WikiLeaks disclosed frank diplomatic cables she sent to her superiors in the State Department, she would only say she felt disturbed to see "stolen" information circulating. She thanked Koreans for their understanding.