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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

North Korea pressing U.S. on bilateral talks

RIA Novosti

18:20 02/11/2009 MOSCOW, November 2 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea is insisting that the U.S. take part in bilateral talks or it will go its "own way" with its nuclear program, the Korea Herald newspaper reported on Monday.

"It is time for the United States to make a decision," the South Korean paper quoted the North Korean foreign ministry spokesman as saying. "If the United States isn't ready to sit down face-to-face with us, we will go our own way."

The North recently hinted that it was willing to return to six-party talks that also involve Russia, South Korea, Japan and China, but insisted it first negotiate directly with the United States to repair "hostile relations."

North Korea has invited Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special envoy to Pyongyang, to visit. Washington has yet to officially accept the invitation, but has said bilateral contacts would be an important step towards resuming six-nation talks.

Senior U.S. and North Korean negotiators held a meeting in late October in New York to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the resumption of stalled nuclear talks.

North Korea abandoned six-party negotiations on its nuclear program in April, in protest against the United Nations' condemnation of its missile tests.

The country is banned from conducting nuclear or ballistic tests under UN Resolution 1718, adopted after North Korea's first nuclear test on October 9, 2006.

However, Pyongyang carried out a second nuclear test on May 25 this year followed by a series of short-range missile launches, and has threatened to build up its nuclear arsenal to counter what it calls hostile U.S. policies.

The move led to the UN imposing new sanctions on North Korea banning the import and export of nuclear material and all weapons except small arms.

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