Hillary Clinton rules out direct talks with N. Korea

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Washington, Aug.6 (ANI): U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reaffirmed Washington's commitment to six-party talks and cut short speculation that the US is moving closer to having direct talks with North Korea about its nuclear-weapons program.

Rumors of a one-on-one dialogue with the Kim Jong-il's regime were in circulation in the wake of her husband and former president Bill Clinton securing the release of two American women journalists on Wednesday.

"Perhaps [the North Koreans] will now be willing to start talking to us within the context of the six-party talks about the international desire to see them denuclearize," Secretary Clinton said Wednesday on NBC's "Today" show.

Her comments came just hours after Bill Clinton left North Korea. Hillary Clinton said that she was not "counting on" her husband's success leading to any breakthrough with North Korea.

One reason some Korea analysts believe the North is probably no closer to achieving the one-one relations it wants with the US is that it has moved the goal posts on facilitating engagement with Washington by declaring itself a nuclear power and blatantly pursuing both nuclear and ballistic missile progress this year.

The isolated and unstable North Korea has long coveted the legitimacy that direct talks with Washington would bestow, domestically and internationally, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Relations with the US would also ease concerns among the country's elite, especially in the military, about the regime's survival. For North Korea, "it would be an act of validation or legitimization if the US were willing to engage them one-on-one."

"The North Koreans have been trying for years to break out of the context of the six-party talks and get to bilateral negotiations with the US, and that effort has irritated both Japan and South Korea immensely," says John Bolton, who was President Bush's ambassador to the United Nations and a Bush administration nonproliferation official.

Bolton says only time will tell if US resistance to direct talks with the North has weakened. (ANI)

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