North: Sanctions must be lifted or no 6-party talksNorth Korea declared yesterday it will not return to the six-party talks unless United Nations sanctions are lifted, further upping the ante as international efforts continue to bring the North back to the denuclearization forum.
“If the six-party talks are to take place again, it is necessary to seek whatever way of removing the factor of torpedoing them,” read the English statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
The North also said it has no reason to oppose or delay the six-party talks, which have been stalled since December 2008, but stressed that if it participates in the talks with sanctions in place, it would not be under the terms detailed in the Sept. 19, 2005, joint statement reached after a six-party talk session.
On Jan. 11, the North said it would return to the six-party talks if sanctions were lifted. But the United States and South Korea scoffed at the notion. U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said at the time, “We’ve made clear, going back several months, we’re not going to pay North Korea for coming back to the six-party process.”
Following the North’s nuclear test last May, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution aimed at stifling cash flow to Pyongyang and preventing further nuclear power development.
In response, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul reiterated yesterday that the North should immediately return to the six-party talks before anything else. “There has to be some progress in denuclearization before the UN can even consider lifting sanctions,” said spokesman Kim Young-sun.
The North has previously declared the six-party talks “dead.” It has since hinted that it would be willing to return to the negotiation table, but now has attached conditions. It has also called for a separate forum outside the six-party framework to discuss reaching a peace treaty to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953, but Washington and Seoul dismissed such a possibility.
Last week, the North threatened to stage a retaliatory war on the South over Seoul’s administrative contingency plans to deal with emergencies in the North, such as a sudden leadership change. Pyongyang also said South Korea would be precluded from any talks on peace and security on the peninsula. The South said it was “regrettable” that the North reacted with such spite to speculative and unconfirmed media reporting.
But inter-Korean talks on a different level will go on as scheduled. Officials from the two Koreas will meet in Kaesong today for a two-day follow-up meeting after their joint trip through overseas industrial bases in December. The officials traveled to China and Vietnam to seek ways to further develop the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The two Koreas have outstanding issues on the Kaesong site, including the North’s demand for land use fees and for higher wages for North Korean workers. It was unclear yesterday if these matters would be on the agenda.
By Yoo Jee-ho [email@example.com]
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