U.S. envoy refutes North’s blustersThe U.S. ambassador to South Korea said yesterday her country has no intention of toppling North Korea’s regime by force, and remains willing to talk to it directly if the stalled six-party nuclear talks resume.
The comments by Kathleen Stephens came a day after North Korea said it would continue to bolster its nuclear arms development if the United States does not drop what Pyongyang called military threats and provocations.
“The United States has no hostile intent toward the people of North Korea, nor are we threatening to change the North Korean regime through force,” Stephens told a forum in Seoul. “Our aim is to find diplomatic solutions to working with North Korea.”
North Korea says the Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercise, an annual South Korea-U.S. joint military drill across the South that began its 11-day run on Monday, demonstrates persisting U.S. hostilities against the country, calling it a rehearsal for a nuclear attack.
Stephens said that despite the bitter criticism in recent days, North Korea has shown “some positive signs” indicating willingness to return to the six-party nuclear talks.
“The language has become more positive,” she said. “We need to see actions.”
North Korea says it will return to the six-party talks - which also include the United States, South Korea, Russia, Japan and China - only if the UN lifts its sanctions on the country and the United States launches separate talks aimed at formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War. The war ended in a truce, and the North says efforts to denuclearize the peninsula will continue to falter unless a peace treaty is signed to replace the armistice.
“The United States remains willing to engage North Korea bilaterally within the framework of the six-party process,” Stephens said.