Following Clinton visit, Pyongyang may want direct talks with U.S. 2009-08-20 05:37:59   Print
The DPRK wants to have direct talks with U.S., said New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.
The temperature has cooled down in the U.S.-DPRK relations, said the governor.
The governor's meeting with two DPRK diplomats was approved by U.S. State Department.

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) wants to have direct talks with the United States, instead of the six-party talks, said New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson on Wednesday.

    After meeting with two DPRK diplomats in his mansion in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Richardson told MSNBC that Pyongyang is prepared to have a dialogue with the United States, but that it is still resisting participating in the six-party talks.

    Richardson, who served as U.S. ambassador to the UN and Energy Secretary and visited Pyongyang for several times in the past years, hosted Kim Myong-Gil and Paek Jong-Jo from the DPRK's mission to the UN for an informal meeting.


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    But the meeting was approved by the U.S. State Department, according to Richardson, who added that the temperature has cooled down in the U.S.-DPRK relations after a period of increasing hostility.

    The meeting, which was reportedly requested by the DPRK side, came after former U.S. president Bill Clinton paid a successful visit to Pyongyang, where he met with top leader Kim Jong-Il and secured the release of two American journalists.

    Clinton has briefed President Barack Obama on his Pyongyang tour.

    The DPRK's official news agency KCNA said Kim and Clinton had talks on improving bilateral relations, while the Obama administration insisted that Clinton did not discuss any issues beyond the journalists' release.

    Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who worked for the Current TV co-founded by former vice president Al Gore, were captured in March for illegally crossing the DPRK border from China and sentenced to12 years of hard labor in June.

    Following Clinton's visit, Pyongyang announced the release. Analysts here said Pyongyang wants to use the chance to explore a direct dialogue mechanism with the United States on improving the bilateral relations.

    "The North Koreans clearly feel they are owed something, that they released the two Americans that they want something in return," Richardson said.

    "I agree it is going to be hard to keep South Korea, China, Japan out of the conversation with North Korea," said Richardson, but adding that there might be "a framework within the six-party talks for on-on-one talks."

    The Obama administration claims that the dialogue should be in the Pyongyang's denuclearization process guided by the six-party talks mechanism, which involved the DPRK, the United States, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Russia.

    "The six-party process is the most effective way to deal with the issues that we have with North Korea," said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, adding that within the six-party process "there can be bilateral discussions, not just with the United States, but other countries, as well."

    According to an agreement signed at the six-party talks in February 2007, the Bush administration agreed to begin discussion on normalization of relations with the DPRK, in exchange for Pyongyang's shutdown of its nuclear facilities.

    The talks on normalizing the U.S.-DPRK relations were kicked off in March 2007, but few developments have been made because the denuclearization process in the Korean Peninsula was often drawn in the stalemate.

    Dismissing international opposition, the DPRK conducted an underground nuclear test on May 25 and since then has fired at least seven ballistic missiles. It also boycotted the six-party talks on its nuclear program.

    Responding to Pyongyang's behavior, the Obama administration has decided to extend economic sanctions by prolonging the national emergency on the DPRK and has vowed to enforce sanctions against Pyongyang set in the UN Security Council Resolution 1874. 

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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