Re-engage North soon, say U.S. congressmen

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Re-engage North soon, say U.S. congressmen

WASHINGTON - A pair of U.S. congressmen Monday called for President Barack Obama to engage North Korea more actively to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula after the North’s sinking of a South Korean warship.

“If North Korea presents some kind of a limited missile threat to any part of the United States coastline, the obvious solution would be to go to North Korea, and to negotiate with them and to talk to them, and to work with them to avoid any confrontation,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) told a gathering here organized by the National Campaign to End the Korean War. The meeting marked the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, which fell on Tuesday.

Washington joins Seoul in refusing to push ahead with a resumption of the six-party talks on ending the North’s nuclear weapons program, citing a lack of commitment by Pyongyang to stop provocations and denuclearize itself.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), meanwhile, urged the Obama administration to sign a peace treaty with North Korea to replace the fragile armistice that still leaves the two Koreas technically at war. “Too many forget that even upon the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, the two sides have never signed a real peace accord,” Lee said. “Recent events remind us all that a true peace on the Korean Peninsula is far from realized.”

The peace treaty is one of two preconditions, along with lifting of international sanctions imposed after the North’s nuclear and missile tests early last year, that Pyongyang put forth for reopening the six-party talks.

Seoul and Washington see the North’s proposals as a way of deflecting international attention from the Cheonan incident. The U.S. said last week it will blacklist more North Korean entities and individuals within two weeks to cut off money flowing to its leaders through the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction and counterfeit and luxury goods in violation of UN resolutions.

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