North: Sanctions must be lifted or no 6-party talks

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North: Sanctions must be lifted or no 6-party talks

North 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 []

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`선 6자복귀` 美요구 거부..`당사국 설득노력 계속` 여운

북한이 평화협정 논의와 대북제재 해제에 앞서 6자회담에 먼저 복귀하라는 미국 정부의 요구를 정면 거부했다.

북한은 18일 외무성 대변인 담화를 내고 "6자회담이 다시 열리려면 회담을 파탄시킨 원인이 어떤 방법으로든 해소돼야 한다"며 "우리가 제재 모자를 쓴 채로 6자회담에 나간다면 그 회담은 9.19공동성명에 명시된 평등한 회담이 아니라 '피고'와 '판사'의 회담으로 되고 만다"며 선(先) 제재 해제를 요구를 되풀이했다.

담화는 또 "자주권을 계속 침해당하면서 자주권을 침해하는 나라들과 마주 앉아 바로 그 자주권 수호를 위해 보유한 억제력에 대해 논의한다는 것은 말이 되지 않으며, 이것은 우리의 자존심이 절대로 허락지 않는다"고 강변했다.

북한이 지난 11일 내놓은 평화협정 회담 제안에 대해 힐러리 클린턴 미국 국무장관은 12일 "북한이 6자회담에 복귀할 경우 제재의 적절한 완화를 검토할 수 있는 기회가 열릴 것"고 언급했고, 필립 크롤리 미 국무부 대변인도 같은 날 "북한이 우리에게 와서 6자회담에 복귀하겠다고 얘기하고, 9.19공동성명 하의 의무를 이행하기 시작하는 것이 먼저"라면서 6자회담 복귀가 우선임을 강조했다.

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