US denies reported contingency plan to attack NKorea

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Washington, Nov 4: The George W Bush administration has made it clear that it has no hostile intentions toward North Korea, reaffirming the US commitment to a peaceful resolution of the nuclear stand-off.

It has also expressed a hope about the success of the six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program. There had been no change in the administration's commitment to diplomacy, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said yesterday, thus denying a media report to the contrary.

The six-party talks, involving South Korea, Japan, Russia, United States, North Korea and China began in 2003 after the collapse of a bilateral US-North Korean nuclear freeze arrangement reached in 1994.

Meanwhile, two senior US diplomats Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph, leave for the region today to prepare ground for reopening talks after North Korea, at the behest of China, agreed to participate.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the starting point for the new talks would be the agreement in principle the parties had reached in September last year, under which North Korea committed to end its nuclear program in return for aid and security guarantees.

''We believe that there is an opportunity to settle the issues that are before us via diplomatic means. I think we've shown our commitment to diplomacy. We are continuing to show that commitment in doing everything that we can to make this next round of six-party talks productive,'' he said.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon denied a Washington Times report, suggesting that the US Defense Department has stepped up contingency planning for military action against North Korean nuclear sites.


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