Pyongyang can take note of Iran deal: U.S. official

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Pyongyang can take note of Iran deal: U.S. official

Sydney Seiler, the U.S. special envoy for six-party talks, said that the landmark deal struck earlier this month between Iran and six other countries to curb its nuclear program could serve as an example to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, should his regime wish to escape its diplomatic and economic isolation.

Seiler held a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Director General for North Korean Nuclear Affairs Kim Gunn in Seoul on Monday amid ongoing movement between countries involved in bringing North Korea back to denuclearization talks.

“We continue to have very close and productive cooperation” on the denuclearization of North Korea, Seiler told reporters in Seoul after talks with Kim at the Foreign Ministry.

However, he added that it has “been frustrating” for other six-party talks members who have sought to bring North Korea back to meaningful negotiations.

“I know that has been equally frustrating for the Republic of Korea, as you’ve worked so hard to try to get an inter-Korea dialogue going,” he said.

“The recent progress in our efforts at denuclearization with Iran provides an excellent example of U.S. flexibility and [our] willingness to engage with countries with which we’ve had longstanding differences,” Seiler said. “[It shows] that we remain committed to dialogue and negotiating a settlement to this issue, and that the door is open to [North Korea] when their leadership makes a decision that it wants to break out of its diplomatic [and economic] isolation.”

Seiler arrived in Seoul on Sunday and is in the midst of a three-country tour. He heads today to Beijing for talks with Xiao Qian, the deputy representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, then to Tokyo on Thursday to meet with Shigeki Takizaki, the deputy director general for Asian and Oceanian affairs.

Kim, Seiler and Takizaki are scheduled to hold trilateral talks on Friday, according to a foreign ministry official, during which they will discuss cooperation on the North Korea issue. Seiler, who has served as the special envoy for the six-party talks since September, also spoke with Hwang Joon-kook, the special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry declared on July 21 that it was not interested in nuclear negotiations like that between Iran and other world powers, adding that the situations in Iran and North Korea are different.

The six-party talks to denuclearize Pyongyang launched in 2003 and involve the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States. The talks have been stalled since 2008, however, since North Korea walked out.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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