North says it will abide by 2005 denuking pact

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North says it will abide by 2005 denuking pact

North Korea is ready to follow through on a September 2005 agreement to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, a spokesman for the North’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the official Korean Central News Agency on Saturday.

The statement was made after the North’s First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan returned home from Beijing, a trip analysts say was a fresh diplomatic maneuver to convince the world of its “seriousness” to resume six-party denuclearization talks.

In the KCNA dispatch, the North’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Pyongyang “remains unchanged in its will to implement the Sept. 19 joint statement adopted at the six-party talks for denuclearizing the whole Korean Peninsula.”

The 2005 deal, made at the fourth round of six-party talks, promises energy aid and security benefits should the North abandon its nuclear weapons program. The North walked away from the six-party talks in April 2009.

North Korea said it wanted to return to the six-party talks in August. But, the South and the United States said resumption of the talks was only possible when inter-Korean relations improved.

Relations reached its lowest levels after a South Korean warship, along with 46 of its sailors, was sunk in March. Seoul blames a North Korean submarine attack, which Pyongyang denies. Seoul is waiting to see whether Pyongyang’s recent conciliatory moves, including reunions of families separated by the Korean War, indicates thawing relations.

Meanwhile, officials from five of the six countries that attend the talks - South Korea, Japan, the U.S., China and Russia - are gathering in Seoul today for a multilateral forum called the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue.

By Moon Gwang-lip []

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