N.Korea Proposes New Framework for Nuclear Talks

      July 25, 2011 09:16

      North Korea has called for launching talks among the two Koreas, the U.S. and China, excluding Japan and Russia from the current framework of six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

      The North broached the topic in talks between the chief nuclear negotiators of both Koreas in Bali, Indonesia last Friday. North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho also brought up the proposal when he met Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin on Saturday.

      A diplomat said the North agreed to talks with the South "in response to a strong message from the U.S. that there would be no Pyongyang-Washington talks unless the North improves inter-Korean relations. It seems the North is considering the new initiative in the belief that there's not enough room for it to maneuver if it stays within the current framework as suggested by South Korea."

      The regime seems to have concluded that a format of four-party talks would make it easier to replace the armistice with a peace treaty and keep last year's attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island off the table.

      It believes Japan would most likely side with South Korea while Russia is unlikely to support its nominal ally to the extent that China does.

      Seoul is not keen on the idea, saying there is no good reason to shake up a framework that has existed for nearly eight years. The North's chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-gwan will visit New York at the invitation of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy on Thursday, where he is expected to meet Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth.

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