McCain sees no six-party talks in the near future

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McCain sees no six-party talks in the near future

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President Park Geun-hye, right, greets U.S. senators John McCain, center, and Sheldon Whitehouse, left, yesterday at the Blue House. All three emphasized the importance of the Korea-U.S. alliance and also emphasized the importance of improving human rights in North Korea. [Joint Press Corps]

Senator John McCain, who ran for the U.S. presidency in 2008, said six-party talks are not likely with Pyongyang until “the North Korean regime shows meaningful steps towards denuclearization.”

He said until denuclearization of the North was accomplished, “there should be no relaxation of pressure and no resumption of six-party negotiations.”

President Park Geun-hye met with three U.S. lawmakers yesterday to exchange views on North Korean policy as relations between Seoul and Pyongyang begin to thaw.

Park met with Arizona’s McCain, a Republican, and Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat representing Rhode Island, at the Blue House.

Separately, Park also met with U.S. Democratic Representative Charles Rangel of New York.

The two emphasized the importance of the Korea-U.S. alliance and the importance of improving human rights in North Korea.

Afterwards, McCain and Whitehouse held a press conference at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in central Seoul emphasizing the United States’ military commitment to Korea and urging trilateral cooperation among Washington and its two democratic allies in the region, Seoul and Tokyo.

McCain, in his first trip to Seoul in two decades, was skeptical that a peace treaty between the North and South could be signed soon.

“I cannot imagine the North Korean government allowing a free and fair election with international observers,” he said. “It seems to me that would have to be the basis of a peace treaty.”

McCain talked about the Korea-U.S. alliance and how it has elevated South Korea.

“Because of our success as allies, it’s not only Korea that is becoming a global actor,” said McCain, “but our alliance is becoming a global alliance focused on what we can do together to promoted security, prosperity and shared democratic values not only on the Korean Peninsula but across Asia.”

He added, “Trilateral cooperation between the United States and our two historic allies, Korea and Japan, as well as bilateral cooperation between them is indispensable.”

He said that he and Whitehouse met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. McCain said Abe wants to “improve relations with Korea.”

McCain had sharp words for China regarding its policy of returning North Korean defectors to Pyongyang.

“I believe the Chinese government should be embarrassed that when a man or woman is able to escape the gulag, they are apprehended and sent back to certain torture if not death.”

McCain and Whitehouse stopped in Japan and China previously as a part of their Asia tour.

The two senators also met with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and other key security officials.



BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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