PYONGYANG, February 21 (Itar-Tass) — North Korea’s delegation headed by Senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan on Tuesday flew from Pyongyang to Beijing “for talks with the United States at a high level,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported without specifying details.
Earlier, China expressed hope that the consultation scheduled for February 23 will create conditions for the resumption of the six-party talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula.
In the run-up to the consultations the DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman said in an interview with Itar-Tass in Pyongyang that the United States “artificially impedes the resumption of the six-party talks.”
“The position of our country on this issue remains unchanged: to resume the six-party talks without preconditions and to discuss at them questions related to the implementation of the joint statement of September 19, based on the principle of simultaneous actions,” the diplomat stressed.
He recalled that the DPRK and Russia “arrived at a common view on the need to resume the negotiations and exert joint efforts in this direction.” However, the spokesman said, obstacles emerged in the way of the resumption, and “the responsibility for this lies with the American side, which makes unjust demands on North Korea.”
The prospect of the six-party talks “depends on the US response to North Korea’s continuing efforts aimed at ensuring peace, stability and denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman concluded.
These negotiations started in August 2003. These talks were a result of North Korea withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003. In September 2005, their participants adopted a joint statement in which North Korea expressed readiness to give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for security guarantees and economic aid. A number of steps were taken towards the implementation of the agreement, but in December 2008 the negotiations reached an impasse.
At present, the DPRK sharply criticises the United States and South Korea that conduct a series of joint exercises in the West Sea (Yellow Sea) in February and March. Pyongyang believes that such actions will lead to “increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula and throughout Northeast Asia.”