June 17, 2013 11:20
North Korea on Sunday proposed talks with the U.S., just days after canceling scheduled negotiations with South Korea over a matter of protocol.
The North said the aim is to "ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, establish regional peace and security and realize the U.S. vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, among other issues of mutual interest," according to a statement from the North's National Defense Commission.
"The U.S. can decide on the meeting's venue and time at its own convenience," the official KCNA news agency quoted it as saying.
The U.S. response was non-committal. "We have always favored dialogue and, in fact, have open lines of communication" with North Korea, said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. "Our desire is to have credible negotiations with the North Koreans, but those talks must involve North Korea living up to its obligations to the world, including compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, and ultimately result in denuclearization."
White House national security advisor Tom Donilon recently pointed out that Washington has yet to see Pyongyang take concrete steps that are necessary for a resumption of talks.
Pundits believe the North is trying to drive a wedge between South Korea, the U.S. and China, which have grown closer in slamming the North's belligerent antics and calling for it to abandon its nuclear weapons.
Pyongyang proposed talks with Seoul on June 6, a day before the leaders of the U.S. and China were scheduled to meet but canceled them as soon as the summit was over. The offer of talks with the U.S. comes ahead of President Park Geun-hye's visit to China on June 27.
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