[EDITORIALS]Dear U.S.: Talk to the North

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[EDITORIALS]Dear U.S.: Talk to the North

The six-nation talks have long been in a stalemate due to Pyongyang’s reaction to U.S. financial sanctions.
Meanwhile, North Korea invited Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. nuclear negotiator and an assistant secretary of state, to Pyongyang.
North Korea announced yesterday that it would invite the U.S. chief delegate to the six-party talks to Pyongyang if the United States made the “political decision to implement truthfully the September 2005 statement and give us its explanation,” as a Foreign Ministry spokesman put it.
The six-party talks have been rapidly losing their drive due to conflicts between Pyongyang and Washington over the issues of the North’s alleged illicit trades, such as in counterfeit money.
Experts’ analysis is divided over Pyongyang’s real reason for inviting Mr. Hill in such circumstances.
Some say that the North is trying to find a face-saving measure to return to the talks. Others say that it is preparing to make an excuse to blame Washington for the failure of the talks.
No matter what its intentions might be, we believe that the United States can think positively about the North’s invitation.
The prolonged stalemate of the six-party talks is no good for anyone. To get out of this situation, some kind of breakthrough needs to happen in North Korea-U.S. relations. However, no breakthroughs can be made without dialogue.
The form of dialogue is not important, whether it is held inside or outside the framework of the six-party talks.
It is not a bad idea for Mr. Hill to go to Pyongyang to explain Washington’s stance and to listen to what Pyongyang has to say.
North Korea’s offer to meet with Mr. Hill needs to be looked at closely, particularly when the global debates over Iran’s nuclear programs have changed the atmosphere.
U.S. President George W. Bush had refused to have a dialogue with Iran in the face of opposition from his neo-conservative backers, but lately he has accepted advice from people who emphasize practical diplomacy, such as Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. This change is very meaningful.
In terms of nuclear development programs, North Korea and Iran have been taking the same steps, with one ahead of the other.
Washington should keep up the momentum it has been building for so long to solve these problems.
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