'Useful' US Visit to North Korea Yields No Date for Nuclear Talks
Kurt Achin | Seoul 10 December 2009
The top U.S. envoy on North Korean nuclear disarmament says he had good discussions in Pyongyang, but secured no formal commitment for the North to come back to negotiations.
U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth in Seoul Thursday said he had "very useful" meetings with senior North Korean officials this week. He says "common understandings" were reached about the need to get rid of the North's nuclear weapons.
Still, North Korea, also known as the DPRK, set no date for sitting down to talk about implementing its nuclear disarmament commitments.
"It remains to be seen when and how the DPRK will return to the six party talks," he said. "This is something that requires further consultations among all six of us."
About six years ago, the U.S., Russia, China, South Korea and Japan began trying to persuade North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons in exchange for diplomatic and economic benefits.
The six nations reached an agreement in September 2005, creating a framework for gradually reducing the North's arsenal, while normalizing its relations with Japan, the United States, and South Korea.
Since then, however, North Korea has conducted two nuclear weapons tests. Pyongyang declared the six-nation process "useless" earlier this year, in its latest boycott of the talks.
Still, Bosworth indicated the North is ready to put the agreement back in motion.
"There is common understanding with the DPRK on the need to implement the 2005 joint statement and to resume the six-party process," he said.
Bosworth arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday, and met with North Korean officials on Wednesday. He portrayed the trip as successful, if only as a first step.
"It is important to point out that these were exploratory talks, not negotiations," he said. "It is certainly our hope that based on discussions in Pyongyang that the six-party talks resume expeditiously and we can get back to important work of denuclearization."
Bosworth now travels to China, Russia, and Japan to brief leaders there on his conversations in Pyongyang.
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