Seoul, Jan 15 (ANI): US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has reportedly hinted that America might be willing to renew nuclear talks with North Korea without preconditions, if the right signals emanated from Pyongyang.
Ahead of his meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is Seoul on Friday, Gates had said that talks with North Korea were possible if Pyongyang stopped "dangerous provocations" and took "concrete steps" to meet its obligations.
"We could see a return to the six-party talks" whenever North Korea gave reason to believe that negotiations could be "productive and conducted in good faith," the Christian Science Monitor quoted him, as saying.
Although Gates' comments appeared strong, he avoided giving a clear indication to North Korea to give up its nuclear program as an agenda for renewing six-party talks, which Pyongyang has called for "with no preconditions," the paper said.
The six-party talks were last held in Beijing in December 2008.
Gates's remarks came after he completed his meeting with dignitaries in China and Japan.
During his visit to South Korea, where the US has 28,500 troops, Gates urged Seoul's Government to act with deeper sensitivity to deal with the problems, especially in the wake of two attacks in the recent past- the sinking of the South Korean navy vessel that killed 46 people and an artillery barrage on a South Korean island in November that killed two South Korean marines and two civilians.
However, Lee rejected the indication of returning to talks without preconditions, and sought Washington's "cooperation" to deal with Pyongyang's nuclear issue.
Last year, senior US defense officials who visited North Korean Yongbyon uranium enrichment facility, had claimed that it was a testimony to the fact that the country could be building atomic weapons.
North Korea has been subject to international sanctions since it defied world opinion by conducting two nuclear tests and test-firing ballistic missiles in 2006. Earlier this year, the US had intensified sanctions against North Korea in a move designed to punish Pyongyang for sinking a South Korean ship and pursuing nuclear weapons. (ANI)