SEOUL: US Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday the United States expects to hold talks with communist North Korea when the time is right and omitted to cite Washington’s usual preconditions for a meeting.
Analysts say they expect next week’s mission to the isolated North by a special envoy from the South’s outgoing president, Kim Dae-jung, to be a forerunner to possible meetings involving Russia and China and eventually to result in talks between Pyongyang and Washington.
“The president (George W. Bush) has indicated that we will talk at the appropriate time and in an appropriate manner. That will happen, I believe, eventually, and we will work out what the proper manner and form is,” Powell told reporters en route to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Washington says it wants to talk only about how the North Koreans will dismantle a uranium enrichment plant and allow international inspectors to resume monitoring work at another nuclear complex.
Pyongyang says it wants to talk, but only to the United States to back its demand Washington sign a non-aggression treaty. Washington has refused.
The crisis was sparked in October when the United States said the North had admitted developing nuclear arms. Pyongyang later ejected UN nuclear inspectors, removed seals from a mothballed reactor and pulled out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Powell said recent diplomatic moves had produced “some progress.”
“There are some things that are going on, no breakthroughs, but at the same time it’s settled down a little bit,” he said.
South Korea urged the United Nations to give diplomacy a chance by delaying an emergency meeting of its atomic watchdog to allow Seoul’s special envoy time next week to talk to the impoverished government in Pyongyang. – Reuters