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North calls alert, U.S. and Korea plan 5-way talks

July 18,2006
North Korea has ordered wartime mobilization preparation for its soldiers and citizens, a senior intelligence official said yesterday. The order was delivered to military and civilian leaders just after midnight Sunday, four hours before the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution condemning the North’s arms and missile programs.
President Roh Moo-hyun convened a meeting of his security officials today to discuss that mobilization order and other issues stemming from the UN resolution.
The order, which was not broadcast by radio or television, was the first in 13 years. In March 1993, readiness was increased as North Korea pulled out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The intelligence official said he assessed the order, in Kim Jong-il’s name, as an effort to rally the nation behind him. He said soldiers were recalled to barracks, camouflage was being rolled out and civilian travel had been restricted.
In Washington, the South Korean and U.S. representatives at the six-party talks on North Korean nuclear issues said yesterday they agreed on the value of a session of those talks even without North Korea present.
Greeted by reporters as they left a luncheon meeting, Chun Young-woo and Christopher Hill said such a meeting might keep some momentum alive in the moribund negotiating forum. Pyongyang has boycotted those talks since last autumn.
The two men said no date has been set; indeed, China, the host of the negotiating forum, appears to be ambivalent at best about a meeting sans North Korea.
Mr. Hill told reporters that the other five nations in the talks ― Russia, China, South Korea, Japan and the United States ― wanted to give North Korea some time to consider the implications of the United Nations Security Council resolution adopted last weekend condemning its missile tests and calling on it to return to the six-way talks.
He repeated that Washington would sit down for discussions with Pyongyang only in the context of those six-way talks.
Mr. Chun said he was confident that Beijing would eventually agree to a five-way meeting.
“Russia will pose no problem and China seems to have become more flexible in recent days,” he said, “but we have to keep consulting.”


by Lee Young-jong, Lee Sang-il


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