US calls for inter-Korean rapprochement

Posted By: Pti
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Washington, Feb 3 (Yonhap) The United States has urgedNorth Korea to improve ties with South Korea before anyreopening of the multilateral denuclearization-for-aid talks,which have been deadlocked for more than two years due to theNorth''s provocations.

"We recognize and believe that the essential firststep in any process of reengagement with North Korea requiresa true and significant North-South dialogue," Kurt Campbell,assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacificaffairs, told a press briefing at the Foreign Press Centeryesterday.

North Korea has made a series of peace overtures inrecent weeks after torpedoing a South Korean warship andshelling a South Korean border island last year, which killeda combined 50 people, including two civilians.

Pyongyang early this month called for working-levelmilitary talks to prepare for a higher-level military dialogueover the Cheonan''s sinking and the artillery attack ofYeonpyeong Island, and Seoul agreed to talks at the trucevillage of Panmunjeom on February 8.

South Korea also proposed a separate meeting to gaugeNorth Korea''s sincerity in its commitment for nucleardismantlement before the resumption of the six-party nucleartalks, which have been in lull over the North''s missile andnuclear tests and other provocations.

"We welcome a resumption of dialogue," Campbell said,adding, "We are in close consultations with our South Koreanallies and friends. We stand with them in wanting to see fromNorth Korea a sincere commitment to a variety of steps,including renunciation of the provocative actions of the lasthalf-year."

South Korean officials recently softened theirattitude, and said a North Korean apology for the Cheonan''ssinking and the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong is not aprecondition for the resumption of the six-party talks.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, however,last week called on the UN Security Council to discuss theuranium enrichment program that Pyongyang revealed to a U.S.

scientist in November.

Campbell said Washington is "working closely with ourallies and friends in terms of the appropriate venue to pressour case" on the North''s uranium program. (Yonhap)

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