International

US assures Pyongyang of 'robust' direct talks

(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-10 07:53

SEOUL: The United States assured the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) of "a robust channel" for direct talks if it rejoins six-nation nuclear negotiations, as a senior US envoy was in Pyongyang yesterday to try to salvage the stalled international talks.

Envoy Stephen Bosworth is on a mission to win the DPRK's commitment to return to the negotiations on dismantling its nuclear program. The government walked away from the talks earlier this year, angered by criticism of its nuclear and missile programs. A nuclear test soon followed.

Bosworth's three-day visit to Pyongyang is the first by a US official since President Barack Obama took office. US officials said Bosworth, who arrived on Tuesday, held high-level talks yesterday and planned to return to Seoul today.

There was speculation that the DPRK would demand yesterday that the US sign a peace treaty with it in return for rejoining the Six-Party Talks, which involve the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the US.

The two Koreas have been locked in a truce, without a peace treaty, since the close of the 1950-53 Korean War. Wary of the 28,500 troops Washington has stationed south of the Demilitarized Zone, Pyongyang has long sought a peace treaty with the US.

The DPRK says the lack of a peace treaty is evidence that the US has a "hostile" attitude toward it, and that it needed to develop nuclear bombs as a result to defend itself in case the US attacked.

AP-Reuters

(China Daily 12/10/2009 page12)