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ROK: Sanctions on DPRK should remain in place
Updated: 2009-10-08 16:17

SEOUL: UN sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) must remain in place even if itcomes back to international nuclear disarmament talks, foreign minister of the Republic of Korea (ROK) said Thursday.

The DPRK leader Kim Jong Il said Monday that his government is willing to rejoin the six-nation nuclear talks depending on progress in its negotiations with the United States. Pyongyang withdrew from the six-party talks after conducting a rocket test in April and a nuclear test in May. It said at the time it would never return to the talks, which also involve China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the US.

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The ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan expressed doubts about the DPRK's statement, saying Pyongyang's "true intentions are unclear." Yu cited the nation's track record of reaching disarmament pacts and then backtracking after receiving aid and concessions.

"It's impossible to halt or lift sanctions just because North Korea (DPRK) returns to dialogue," Yu told reporters, adding that all five countries negotiating with the DPRK are united in that position.

Yu said the DPRK is showing a "dual attitude of offering to talk while continuing nuclear development."

The UN Security Council imposed the sanctions to punish the DPRK for its second nuclear test.

An earlier UN sanctions resolution, adopted after Pyongyang's first atomic test in 2006, was never enforced in earnest after Pyongyang agreed later to disarmament talks.

Yu said the same mistake should not be repeated.

Kim Jong Il's offer of dialogue, made during talks with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, reflects Pyongyang's desire for direct engagement with Washington. The Obama administration has said that might be possible but any talks should be part of the six-nation negotiations aimed at ending the DPRK's nuclear programs.

China's nuclear envoy, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, said Wednesday that Pyongyang's readiness to hold discussions with the US is a positive development that could pave the way for a resumption of the stalled six-party talks.

"There are various types of dialogues within the framework of the six-party talks. China has always supported bilateral dialogues between all the relevant parties. ... A dialogue between the DPRK and the US is an important step under the framework of the six-party talks," Wu said in remarks posted on the ministry's official Web site.

"I hope the dialogue between the DPRK and the US can achieve concrete progress," he added.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said later Wednesday that no decision has been made on whether to have direct talks with the DPRK, but the US is open to it.

"We just want to make sure that ... once the decision is made, that the talks are arranged in such a way that it would lead to the resumption of the multilateral context of the six-party talks," he said.

Pyongyang has been moderating its tone in recent weeks, backing away from its provocative behavior and rhetoric of the spring.

The DPRK has long said it cannot give up its nuclear arsenal as long as the US continues with what it says is a "hostile policy" and preparations for a nuclear attack. Washington denies it has any such intentions.

Pyongyang agreed in 2007 to disable its nuclear facilities in return for international aid. In June last year, it blew up the cooling tower at its main nuclear complex in a show of its commitment. But its denuclearization soon came to a halt as it wrangled with Washington over how to verify its past nuclear activities.