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US working on detailed North Korea plan
( 2003-09-27 10:04) (Agencies)

The United States is working on a detailed plan to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue in advance of an expected second round of six-party talks, South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan said on Friday.

"This greatly enhances the prospects of a diplomatic resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue," he told a lunch sponsored by the Asia Society and the Council on Foreign Relations.

After months of accelerating weapons program activity, the North attended talks in Beijing last month with China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

The talks, intended to address the crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear program, may resume in November although no date has been agreed.

During the Beijing talks, the six parties all laid out their individual positions.

Yoon said the next rounds "will discuss detailed methods of terminating the North Korea's nuclear weapons program and seek ways to ease North Korea's security concerns and economic hardship in one way or another."

"The United States now seems to be working on a more detailed plan for these issues including North Korea's security concerns," he said, without elaborating.


He also said it was time for the United States and South Korea, a key Asian ally, to begin a serious independent study on arrangements for a permanent peace agreement to replace the armistice that has existed on the Korean peninsula since the 1950-53 war ended.

The minister devoted much of his speech to advocating negotiations with the North and he indirectly rebutted hardline skeptics in the Bush administration who abhor the idea of dealmaking with the isolated communist nation.

During the Cold War, the North had been engaged with other countries but had since become increasingly isolated and this "most likely strengthened the will of North Korea to become a nuclear power," Yoon said.

He argued the North's economic, military and diplomatic hardships had converged to cause the current crisis and only a comprehensive solution that dealt with all those elements would work.

Some people, including some senior U.S. officials, insist the North cannot be trusted because it violated a 1994 agreement with Washington by developing a clandestine program to produce highly enriched uranium, fuel for an atomic bomb.

But Yoon said if a new agreement was negotiated and the North attempted to cheat, "the entire international community will turn its back" on Pyongyang.

"If the ongoing talks can come up with a comprehensive solution with security, economic and diplomatic dimensions, North Korea will feel secure enough to give up its nuclear ambitions and divert scarce resources from military buildup to economic development," he said.

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