U.S. downbeat about revival of N. Korea nuclear talks
Published : Jan 4, 2012 - 19:37
Updated : Jan 4, 2012 - 19:37
WASHINGTON (AFP) ― The United States said Tuesday that the new North Korean leadership’s stated refusal to engage with South Korea bodes ill for reviving six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

“That’s not going to be conducive to getting back to the table,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters when asked about the North Korean stand.

North Korea Friday ruled out engagement with South Korea’s current government of conservative President Lee Myung-bak, a day after proclaiming Kim Jong-un, the son of late leader Kim Jong-il, as its new supreme chief.

The North will never have dealings “with the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors,” according to the National Defense Commission, the top decision-making body. Nuland recalled that “there have been two criteria that we are looking for in particular in terms of getting back to six-party talks.”

“One is the continued improvement” of relations between the two Koreas, she said.

“The other is a commitment and demonstrated willingness by (North Korea) to come back into compliance with its international obligations and its commitments from 2005,” Nuland said.

“So both of those are still... on the table from our perspective. So our position certainly hasn’t changed,” Nuland said.

The six-party talks on the North’s nuclear weapons program ― chaired by China and involving the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia ― have been at a standstill since the last round in December 2008.

Pyongyang stormed out in April 2009 in protest against what it described as U.S. hostility, and staged its second nuclear test about a month later.

The North and China have expressed a wish to return to the forum without preconditions. But Washington and Seoul have insisted the North should show sincerity in denuclearization and ease tensions with the South.

Negotiations to resume the talks had appeared to be making progress before Kim Jong-il’s death, with reports Pyongyang would bow to a key U.S. demand that it suspend its uranium enrichment program in return for food aid from the United States.