North Korea

US to consult Japan and South Korea after North's latest offer of talks

White House officials to meet counterparts from Japan and South Korea after North proposes 'broad and in-depth discussions'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 June, 2013, 5:39am

The United States will meet with South Korea and Japan in Washington tomorrow and Wednesday to discuss North Korea's new offer to hold high-level talks, a senior US official said yesterday.

"We will be meeting with our Japanese and South Korean partners in a trilateral setting, and this will be one of the subjects for discussion," the official said.

The White House says it wants "credible negotiations" with Pyongyang that will lead to a nuclear-free North Korea.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told CBS News' Face the Nation that any talks "have to be based on them living up to their obligations" on proliferation, nuclear weapons, smuggling and other issues

The administration of US President Barack Obama is responding to a proposal by Pyongyang's top governing body for high-level nuclear and security talks with Washington.

US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says North Korea must live up to "its obligations to the world", including complying with UN resolutions.

"We have always favoured dialogue and, in fact, have open lines of communication with the DPRK," said Hayden.

"We will judge North Korea by its actions and not its words, and look forward to seeing steps that show North Korea is ready to abide by its commitments and obligations," she added.

North Korea proposed the high-level talks with the US just days after it abruptly cancelled a rare meeting with the South.

The proposal comes as the North is under increasing pressure to abandon its atomic arsenal and belligerent behaviour, not only from the US and South Korea, but also from the reclusive nation's sole major ally, China.

"We propose senior-level talks between … [North Korea] and the US to defuse tensions on the Korean peninsula, and ensure peace and security in the region," Pyongyang's powerful National Defence Commission said.

The North is willing to have "broad and in-depth discussions" on issues such as the building of "a world without nuclear weapons" being promoted by Obama, the commission said, inviting the US to set the time and venue for the meeting.

"If the US has true intent on defusing tensions on the Korean peninsula, and ensuring peace and security in the US mainland and the region, it should not raise preconditions for dialogue and contact," it added.

North Korea said in the statement that it was committed to denuclearisation of the peninsula, but defended its atomic arsenal as "self-defence" against what it called military and nuclear threats from the US.

"The legitimate status of the [North] as a nuclear weapons state will go on … [until] the nuclear threats from outside are put to a final end," it said, urging the US to also scrap all sanctions against it.

President Xi Jinping , who agreed with Obama last weekend that the North must give up its nuclear arsenal, will meet South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye on June 27.

"The North is hard-pressed to show some kind of reconciliatory gestures to avoid being further isolated in this dynamic, especially by China," said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea expert at Dongguk University in Seoul.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Reuters