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U.S. envoy arrives in North to try to revive stalled talks

Bosworth will offer no special deal to Pyongyang on nuclear stalemate

Dec 09,2009
Stephen Bosworth, the special U.S. envoy to North Korea, arrived in Pyongyang yesterday, where he was scheduled begin bilateral talks with his North Korean counterparts.

On the first day of his three-day trip, Bosworth was expected to meet Kang Sok-ju, the first vice foreign minister and an influential regime figure. North Korean media had not reported on Bosworth’s trip by press time last night.

Bosworth is the first U.S. envoy to sit down for senior-level bilateral talks with North Korean officials under the Obama administration. The meeting comes at the tail end of a year in which North Korea conducted its second nuclear test and declared the six-party talks “dead,” while constantly accusing the United States of keeping a “hostile” policy towards the country.

Officials in Washington expressed hope that Bosworth and his delegation would accomplish its stated goal - getting the North back to the denuclearization negotiations.

“We obviously hope that Ambassador Bosworth’s visit is successful in persuading the North Koreans to return to the six-party talks and work toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and a new set of relationships with us and our partners,” said Hillary Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state.

Others said the United States will not simply give in to the North this week. A senior U.S. official told reporters in Washington, on the condition of anonymity, that Bosworth is in Pyongyang to assess whether North Korea is really ready to resume the six-party talks, but Washington will not offer any incentives.

“Given the fact that there was some indication that they may be prepared to [return to the table], we thought it was important ... that we go and determine for ourselves what their real intentions are,” the official said. “This is not intended to be an extended bilateral engagement.

“[Bosworth] is definitely not carrying any additional inducements,” the official added. “We don’t intend to reward North Korea simply for going back to doing something that it had previously committed to do.”

Ian Kelly, state department spokesman, said the United States will not accommodate the North Korean demand for negotiating a peace treaty to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953.

“No, that’s not on our agenda,” Kelly said. “I think you know, as in the context of the six-party talks, there are arrangements for bilateral working groups. So that would be the appropriate venue for that.”


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]



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