Monday, July 25, 2011

Clinton Invites North Korean Official to U.S. For Talks

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2011 – Two weeks after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called for strong multilateral deterrence against a continuing North Korean threat, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced yesterday that the United States has invited a top North Korean diplomat to New York for talks aimed at restarting the stalled Six-Party Talks.

“Following the first round of denuclearization talks between the nuclear negotiators of the Republic of Korea and North Korea, the United States has invited North Korean Vice Minister Kim Kae-gwan to New York later this week,” Clinton said.

Kim will meet with an interagency team of U.S. officials for discussions on the next steps necessary to resume denuclearization negotiations through the talks.

“This will be an exploratory meeting to determine if North Korea is prepared to affirm its obligations under international and Six-Party Talk commitments, as well as take concrete and irreversible steps toward denuclearization,” she said.

Clinton emphasized that the United States does “not intend to reward the North just for returning to the table” or “give them anything new for actions they have already agreed to take.”

The United States has “no appetite for pursuing protracted negotiations [with North Korea] that will lead us right back to where we have already been,” she added.

Clinton delivered her statement after what she termed “a very productive” trilateral meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, speaking to reporters during a mid-July visit to the South Korean capital of Seoul, stressed the importance of multilateral cooperation in deterring North Korean provocations against its southern neighbor and prodding it to return to the Six-Party Talks.

The United States and its South Korean counterparts are working with a “sense of urgency” on plans to deter more provocations such as the sinking of the South Korean navy ship Cheonan in March 2010 and the artillery strike on Yeonpyeong Island in November, Mullen said.

“The threat remains real,” Mullen said during the July 14 roundtable. “North Korea shows no sign of relenting in pursuit of its nuclear capabilities, and I am not convinced that they will not provoke again. The only thing that is predictable about North Korea is their unpredictability.”

Mullen, underscoring the strength of the South Korean-U.S. alliance, warned that future attacks won’t be tolerated and that North Korea should expect “a very strong response” should one occur.

The chairman called for strong, multilateral cooperation to deter North Korean aggression.

“I believe a measured, multilateral approach is needed, not just now, but … for a long time into the future,” he said. “We all stand to gain from a stable peninsula.”

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