US rejects North Korea's call for resumption of talks

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Washington, Jan 22: The US Wednesday dismissed an unconditional resumption of the six-party talks suggested by North Korea over its nuclear programme, reiterating a call for Pyongyang to abide by its past commitments.

State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki was responding to a proposal made Monday by North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator Ri Yong Ho following a two-day unofficial meeting with former US special representative for North Korea policy Stephen Bosworth in Singapore.

North Korea

"I think the important point here is that the view of the United States, as well as our six-party partners, is that North Korea would need to abide by their international obligations, including the 2005 joint statement," Xinhua quoted Psaki as saying at a daily press briefing.

"The ball has long been in their court, but we certainly reject new proposals that don't have any backing," she added.

While in Singapore, Ri once again called on Washington to end its large-scale war games with North Korea, blaming them for the rising tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Psaki had criticised Pyongyang's past offer to suspend future nuclear tests for Washington's agreement to halt joint military exercises with North Korea this year, calling the proposal "an implicit threat".

Asked what pre-conditions North Korea was setting for its return to the six-party talks, Ri said that "for the first time, we had proposed the meeting without any preconditions."

The six-party talks, which also involve Russia, China and Japan, were initiated in Beijing in August 2003 but have been stalled since December 2008. North Korea dropped out of the talks in April 2009.

In the 2005 joint statement, Pyongyang committed itself to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes and returning at an early date to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, while Washington affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade North Korea with nuclear or conventional weapons.

IANS

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