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US should decide on bilateral talks: NKorea

world Updated: Nov 02, 2009 08:31 IST

AFP
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North Korea said on Monday it is time for the United States to decide whether to hold bilateral talks, and vowed to "go our own way" if Washington refuses dialogue.

"As we have made it clear that we are ready to take part in multilateral talks, including the six-party talks, depending on the results of talks with the United States, it's time for the United States to make a determination," a foreign ministry spokesman told Pyongyang's official news agency.

The North in early October expressed willingness to return to the six-party nuclear disarmament negotiations it quit in April, but only after it talks directly to the United States to improve "hostile relations."

In late October senior official Ri Gun held talks in New York with Sung Kim, the US special envoy on the North's nuclear disarmament. The pair also met later on the sidelines of a California forum.

But the State Department says it has not yet decided whether to accept Pyongyang's invitation for a visit by the US special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth.

Asked about Ri's visit, the foreign ministry spokesman said if the two countries "end the hostile relationship and build trust, there will be a meaningful step towards the denuclearising of the Korean peninsula."

The spokesman added: "If the United States is not ready to sit down face-to-face with us for talks, we cannot but go on our own way."

The spokesman played down Ri Gun's talks in New York.

"This contact was not a preliminary meeting for the DPRK (North Korea)-US talks, and thus there were no substantive discussions related to the DPRK-US talks," the spokesman said.

The communist North has long sought direct talks with the United States to end the nuclear standoff, and is unenthusiastic about the six-party framework which also involves South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.

Washington says it is willing to hold bilateral talks but these would be limited to bringing Pyongyang back to the six-party framework.

The North staged its second nuclear weapons test in May.