June 21, 2013 11:50
South Korea, the U.S. and Japan have set tougher terms for any talks with North Korea, calling on Pyongyang to demonstrate sincerity through better guarantees than those agreed to in an abortive aid-for-disarmament deal reached with the U.S. more than a year ago.
Seoul's chief envoy to stalled six-party talks, Cho Tae-yong, told reporters after a meeting in Washington D.C. with his counterparts from the U.S. and Japan, "Stronger requirements should be imposed [on the North] than the Feb. 29 agreement between North Korea and the United States."
On Feb. 29 of last year, North Korea and the U.S. announced a deal in which Pyongyang would halt nuclear activities at its main facility in Yongbyon, impose a moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile tests, and invite back international nuclear inspectors in return for 240,000 tons of food aid from Washington.
South Korea, the U.S. and Japan also reiterated that North Korea must abide by a Sept. 19, 2005 statement of principles whereby it agreed to "complete and verifiable" denuclearization and other steps.
"Talks for the sake of more talks are meaningless," Cho said. "Without concrete progress, there will be no further discussions."
But China, the host country of the six-party talks, apparently still favors the resumption of negotiations first and worries that a hard line by South Korea, the U.S. and Japan would only agitate North Korea further.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Thursday that the easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula must be the result of "combined efforts" by the countries involved in the six-party talks. "What is most urgent right now is to bolster mutual trust through dialogue and contact and improve relations, while resolving problems through negotiations," Hua said.
She also called on each country to create the conditions necessary for the stalled talks to resume.
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