Thursday, December 31, 2009

North Korea Seeks Closer Ties With US

Friday, January 01, 2010
05:28 Mecca time, 02:28 GMT

North Korea seeks closer US ties

The North Korean leadership has indicated it may return to six-party talks it abandoned in 2009

North Korea has called for an end to hostile ties with the US and reaffirmed that it wants a nuclear free peninsula.

The call was made in a New Year joint editorial on Friday by several North Korean newspapers carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"The fundamental task for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of Asia is to put an end to the hostile relationship between the DPRK and the USA," KCNA quoted the editorial as saying.

"It is the consistent stand of the DPRK [North Korea] to establish a lasting peace system on the Korean peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations."

North Korea has made similar pledges before and analysts have said Pyongyang may call for separate discussions on formally establishing diplomatic ties with the US before it agrees to resume six-party nuclear talks involving the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, China and the US.

'Actions louder than words'

In Washington, a state department official said the North should demonstrate its good intentions by returning to the six-party talks on its nuclear programme, which were last held a year ago.

"Actions speak louder than words," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "A good step forward would be to return to six-party talks."

Following a December visit by US envoy Stephen Bosworth who carried a letter to Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, from Barack Obama, the US president, Pyongyang has indicated it could return to the talks it abandoned in 2009.

North Korea reneged on a six-party deal to halt its nuclear programme in exchange for aid and an end to its international isolation about a year ago and was hit with fresh UN sanctions for its second nuclear test conducted in May.

The US and Pyongyang's neighbours want it to at least return to an agreement it walked away from to take apart its ageing Yongbyon nuclear plant, which makes plutonium, and let international inspectors back into the country.

The New Year editorial also put great emphasis on what it called bringing about "a radical turn in the people's standard of living".

This would be achieved by quicker development of light industry and agriculture, KCNA said.

"Our building of the country into an economic giant is aimed, to all intents and purposes, at radically improving the people's standard of living," the editorial quoted Kim as saying.

Friday's editorial also warned neighbouring South Korea against "committing acts that may aggravate the confrontation and tension, and take the road of respecting the inter-Korean declarations, promoting north-south dialogue and improving the relations between both sides".

Source: Agencies

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