US considers new approach to North Korea
Washington, May 18 : The United States is considering a new approach to North Korea that would include beginning negotiations on a peace treaty at the same time as six-country talks on dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear programs, The New York Times has reported.
The newspaper yesterday said on its Web site that President George W Bush was very likely to approve the new approach, which had been hotly debated by different administration factions. But that would only come if North Korea returned to the talks, which have been stalled for months.
North Korea has long demanded a peace treaty to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War and the administration has said previously it would be willing to consider working on such an agreement.
The question of when such benefits might flow to Pyongyang has sharply divided the administration. It initially insisted the North dismantle its nuclear programs before receiving any economic or political returns, but has softened that position over time. The latest move to offer simultaneous peace treaty talks and nuclear negotiations would be a further modification.
It is unclear whether the new offer might alter Pyongyang's stance. It has refused to return to six-country negotiations on the nuclear issue since an inconclusive session last November.
In recent interviews with Reuters, two US officials were extremely pessimistic about persuading the North to return to the table and said they did not expect any movement until at least after Bush left office.