U.S. says North’s hostile attitude is ‘not conducive’

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U.S. says North’s hostile attitude is ‘not conducive’

Washington said Tuesday that the hostile stance of the new North Korean regime toward the South will be an impediment to restarting the six-party talks on denuclearization.

A New Year’s editorial printed over the weekend criticized South Korea, and the North’s supreme ruling body, the National Defense Commission, vowed in a statement Dec. 30 that the regime led by Kim Jong-un will not talk with the Lee Myung-bak government.

“Well, that’s not going to be conducive to getting us back to the table,” said U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in a media briefing.

Improvement in inter-Korean ties is one of the two criteria for the U.S. to return to the talks, she said, along with the North’s commitment to denuclearization.

“Both of those are still on the table from our perspective,” she said, “so our position certainly hasn’t changed.”

“I don’t think there’s any substantive change from where we were just before the new year, which is that we’re waiting to hear from the North Korean side,” she said.

Hit by two deadly attacks in 2010, the South had initially opposed resuming the six-party talks without inter-Korean rapprochement, but it gradually took inter-Korean issues off the table, shifting its focus to such pre-conditions as the suspension of the North’s once-secret uranium enrichment program.

The Kim Jong-il regime also made some efforts to smooth out inter-Korean relations, including two inter-Korean denuclearization talks in July 2011 and Sept. 2011.

The North also met the U.S. bilaterally twice last year and was supposed to have another Pyongyang-Washington meeting to announce some progress in the restarting of the talks last month. The talks were not held after the North announced the death of Kim Jong-il on Dec. 19.

The North has hoped to return to the six-party talks, which it walked out of in April 2009. The talks involve the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.

Kurt Campbell, the U.S. assistant secretary of state who is embarking on a trip to Asia, arrived in South Korea late yesterday to discuss North Korea after Kim Jong-il’s death, Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

Today, Campbell is scheduled to meet with Seoul officials including Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Jae-shin.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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