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NK Calls for Nonaggression Pact With US


NK Calls for Nonaggression Pact With US

BEIJING - Difficult negotiations aimed at resolving the most pressing security concern in Northeast Asia; North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, began Wednesday morning with the head delegates from six nations unveiling their positions with keynote speeches at Fang Fei Garden.

During his speech, Assistant U.S. States Secretary of State James Kelly underscored the need for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program completely, irreversibly and in a verifiable manner, demanding up-front concessions from the Pyongyang side.

Kelly reiterated his country’s position that there will be no rewards for North Korea, sources said, but is known to have mentioned that Pyongyang’s demands for a security guarantee can be met on paper.

South Korean officials disputed some media reports that the U.S. took an abrupt turn to a harder-line position toward North Korea, deciding to offer no incentives the North may be persuaded to grab.

“The reports that the U.S. has decided against a written form of security guarantee is not true,” said a senior South Korean diplomat. “There will be concrete discussion on the issue throughout the talks.”

North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong-il repeated his position that the U.S. needs to give up its hostile North Korea policy first by forging a non-aggression pact, sources said, adding that Pyongyang feels bound to keep the nuke program alive as long as threats from Washington continue.

“The United States... should change its policy (toward North Korea) and make clear a willingness to sign a non-aggression treaty,” said the Rodong Sinmun, the North’s official newspaper, Wednesday.

Kim is known to have expressed Pyongyang’s willingness to freeze or scrap the nuclear program if the U.S. agrees to lift decades-old economic sanctions against the impoverished country.

South Korea, which wants to remove the nuclear hurdle to continue its reconciliation policy with North Korea, said it is willing to provide massive economic benefits.

Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck said during his keynote speech that large-scale economic cooperation projects are on the horizon after the nuclear dilemma disappears.

Japan’s head delegate Mitoji Yabunaka, Director-General at the Foreign Ministry and who is facing strong domestic pressure to resolve the issue of its nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, proposed that the six-way nuclear talks include the issue as well.

Japan’s insistence received uneasy reactions from China and Russia, which believe the issue could incite unnecessary protests from North Korea, chilling the atmosphere and hampering development on the nuclear issue.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, host of the meeting, called for the participating nations to “work together for the success of the meeting” during his opening speech.

Wang said before the meeting the participating nations should “adopt a calm and patient attitude, respect each other, conduct consultations on an equal footing, seek common ground and reduce disputes.”

“We oppose sanctions or putting on pressure and we oppose war even more so,” stressed Wang during an interview with Chinese journalists Tuesday, mentioning his country’s efforts to realize a second round of dialogue since the North Korean nuclear crisis began last October.

Commenting that the coming together of the six parties is an important signal, Wang said Pyongyang made an “important and resolute” decision in realizing the talks.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing hosted a dinner for the delegates, who number about 100, in the evening. Heated debate is expected to take place Thursday and talks are expected to continue until Friday (Aug. 29).


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