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US wants dialogue with Pyongyang: US envoy

The United States wants dialogue with North Korea, Washington's new special envoy to Pyongyang said on Saturday, amid concerns the communist state is preparing to test-fire a missile.

world Updated: Mar 07, 2009 11:23 IST

The United States wants dialogue with North Korea, Washington's new special envoy to Pyongyang said on Saturday, amid concerns the communist state is preparing to test-fire a missile.

"We're reaching out now. We want dialogue," Stephen Bosworth, on his first tour of Asia since being appointed last month by the new administration of US President Barack Obama, said in Seoul upon his arrival at Incheon airport.

He made the remarks when asked when Washington planned to reach out to the North, amid a series of recent threats from Pyongyang that have heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea has announced it is readying to fire a rocket for what it calls a satellite launch, but which Washington believes is a test of a long-range missile that could theoretically reach Alaska.

Asked whether he would visit the North or meet with North Korean officials even if Pyongyang goes ahead with the launch, Bosworth said that was "a complicated subject."

"We've indicated our position to them on the question of the missile launch, or satellite launch, or whatever they call it. We think it's very ill-advised," he said.

Bosworth urged Pyongyang to cease all threats against South Korean airliners near its airspace, saying he did not think the warning was "very helpful."

"I think everyone would be a lot happier if they would drop that line of rhetoric," he said.

On Thursday Pyongyang said it could not guarantee security for Seoul's commercial flights near its territory because a 12-day US-South Korean military exercise starting south of the inter-Korean border on Monday could trigger a war.

The announcement was the latest in a series of threats that have raised tensions in recent weeks.