North Korea's priority is ties with US - South Korea
Updated: 2005-12-27 17:18
North Korea is more interested in establishing diplomatic ties with the
United States than it is in receiving economic aid, a top South Korean official
said on Tuesday.
North Korea agreed at six-country talks in September to dismantle its nuclear
weapons programs in exchange for economic aid, security assurances and greater
diplomatic recognition, including the eventual normalization of ties with
"I believe the most valuable thing that North Korea wants to get in return
for abandoning its nuclear programs is the normalization of relations with the
United States," Unification Minister Chung Dong-young told a news conference.
In February, North Korea declared for the first time it had nuclear weapons
and in recent months has threatened to bolster its nuclear arsenal because of
the threat it sees posed by the United States.
"If North Korea normalizes its relations with the United States it will help
dismantle the last remaining Cold War structure and create a peace regime on the
Korean peninsula," Chung said at the conference with foreign journalists.
South Korean Unification Minister Chung
Dong-young answers a reporter's question during a news conference in Seoul
December 27, 2005. [Reuters]
The resumption of six-party talks among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia
and the United States has hit a snag over a U.S. crackdown on North Korean
The United States has clamped down on several North Korean companies it
suspects of being involved in counterfeiting, money laundering and the drugs
trade, saying the illicit businesses had helped fund Pyongyang's nuclear weapons
North Korea said the U.S. position was an attempt to overthrow its rulers and
Pyongyang threatened to boycott the six-party talks because of Washington's
Chung said "the issue of the financial measures should not be linked to the
Chung was in Washington earlier this month to discuss his recent meeting with
North Korean officials and to receive U.S. briefings on suspected illegal
activity by North Korea.
Washington is seeking to win converts in Seoul while assuring South Korea
that the financial crackdown is best left to treasury and law enforcement
officials and should not be a part of the talks on ending Pyongyang's pursuit of
"When South Korea asks to see more evidence, it is trying to say it's
concerned about losing momentum in the six-party talks," said Kim Sung-han, an
expert on North Korea-U.S. relations at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and
National Security in Seoul.