Kerry: US May Reduce Military Presence in Asia if Pyongyang Resumes Nuclear Talks
MOSCOW, October 23 (RIA Novosti) – The US is ready to decrease its military force in Asia in the event North Korea resumes negotiations on its nuclear program, reaffirms its commitment to non-proliferation and is ready to destroy all of its nuclear weapons, John Kerry, the US Secretary of State said Wednesday.
Mr. Kerry spoke on the North Korean issue at a news conference in Berlin, where German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier was also present. The US Secretary of State stressed North Korea needs to rejoin the six-party nuclear talks soon if it wants to break the international isolation.
"…if North Korea wants to rejoin the community of nations, it knows how to do it. It can come to the talks prepared to discuss denuclearization', Mr. Kerry said, as quoted on the Department of State website. "If they do that and begin that process, we are prepared to begin the process of reducing the need for American force and presence in the region because the threat itself would then be reduced," the Secretary of State concluded.
However, Mr. Kerry noted that the US will not tolerate talks as a means to ease the international isolation of Pyongyang. "We hope to get back to talks, but we need some indication from Kim Jong-un, and the regime, that they are, in fact, prepared to talk seriously about the central topic of the talks, which is the issue of denuclearization. We do not want to return to talks just for the sake of talks", he said, referring to a series of previous failed attempts at diplomatic resolution. The impoverished nation has been expanding its WMD capacity despite receiving humanitarian aid and other international concessions throughout most of the last 10-to-15 years.
The "six-party talks" are an international initiative to ensure nuclear non-proliferation in the Korean Peninsula and have been stalled since 2008. Of the six nations involved, China and Russia have the most influence on Pyongyang, while South Korea and Japan are key US allies.
In turn, North Korea responded to the Mr. Kerry remarks as saying it will not rejoin the talks until the US ends its "hostile behavior" towards Pyongyang. "The DPRK (North Korea) can never abandon its nuclear deterrence unless the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and its nuclear threat against all Koreans are completely stopped", North Korean KCNA news agency stated as quoted by CNS News. "The DPRK's nukes can never be bartered for anything", KCNA added.
There are currently about 28,000 US troops stationed in South Korea. The two Koreas are still technically at war and international tensions in the region are high.
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