North Korea proposes high-level talks with US aimed at ridding region of nuclear weapons
Proposal suggests Pyongyang is veering towards dialogue after period of heightened bellicosity
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un: has requested the US stop imposing “preconditions” for nuclear dialogue.
North Korea proposed high-level talks with the United States, saying it was ready to discuss easing tensions and eventually denuclearising the Korean peninsula.
The North’s proposal indicated that it was shifting to dialogue after months of bellicose language, including threats to launch nuclear strikes at the US and South Korea, that have raised tensions to the highest in years. North Korea had also proposed dialogue with South Korea this month, though initial agreement to hold high-level dialogue in Seoul collapsed last week over a difference about their chief delegates.
We “propose high-level talks between the North Korean and US governments to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and establish regional peace and security,” a spokesman of the National Defence Commission, the North’s top governing agency, said in an “important statement” carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.
The spokesman said North Korea and the US could meet “any time and at any place the United States wants”.
He said North Korea reaffirmed “the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula was an unchanged will and resolution of our military and the people”. To stress the credibility of that statement, the spokesman attributed it to the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung, and his son Kim Jong-il, who led North Korea until he died in 2011. He was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-un.
North Korea has issued a similar statement in the past. However, in recent months, it had taken a confrontational approach as it protested UN sanctions imposed after its rocket-launching in December and its nuclear test in February. In those statements, it appeared to have hardened its position, saying it would never join any talks designed to end its nuclear weapons programmes.
North Korea also made it clear the denuclearisation must include removal of American nuclear threats in the region. It would discuss dismantling its nuclear weapons programmes with the US, but only as part of broader nuclear arms reduction talks.
“Whether anyone accepts our proud status as a nuclear power, we will hold fast to it until the denuclearisation of the entire Korean peninsula is realised and the nuclear threat from the outside is completely terminated,” the North Korean spokesman said.
Washington has demanded that, before talks, North Korea must take steps to show its sincerity in giving up its nuclear weapons. Yesterday, the North said the US should stop raising “preconditions” for dialogue.
The North also said it wanted to negotiate a treaty to replace the 1953 Korean War armistice and formally end the war. – (New York Times)