N Korea may return to six-nation nuke talks
North Korea has refused to return to the talks since November, demanding the US first lift financial sanctions.Updated: Apr 08, 2006 12:07 IST
North Korea hinted on Saturday that Pyongyang wanted to return to stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear programme, saying the regime was ready to make contact with other sides in the dispute.
Kim Gye-Gwan, North Korea's chief negotiator on its nuclear programme, was quoted by Kyodo News agency as saying the Stalinist regime wanted to advance the negotiations, bogged down since late last year over US-imposed sanctions.
"We have decided to actively contact (officials from other countries) bilaterally and multilaterally for the advancement of six-party talks," Kim was quoted as saying.
North Korea has refused to return to the talks since November, demanding the United States first lift financial sanctions imposed over charges the cash-strapped regime is counterfeiting US dollars and laundering money.
Kim, who is in Japan on a rare visit to take part in a five-day private forum opening on Sunday aimed at reinvigorating the stalled nuclear talks, said on Friday he was ready to talk with the United States.
He said that while he did not consider the security conference to be a round of the six-nation talks, he was prepared for a meeting.
"If the United States makes a proposal to meet us, we intend to accept it," Kim told reporters upon his arrival.
But he added: "We have not come here for the purpose of six-nation talks and the United States knows very well what is necessary to resume the talks."
"We are participating in the conference now with the hope of contributing to peace in Northeast Asia," Kim said.
Christopher Hill, the US envoy to the talks, is also set to attend the East Asia Cooperation Dialogue forum, but a US embassy spokesman said he had no immediate plans to meet Kim.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has expressed hope that progress can come out of the conference, which includes officials from the six countries in the nuclear talks -- China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States.
To the unease of other countries in the nuclear talks, Japan has made a priority of resolving the North's abductions of Japanese civilians, mostly in the 1970s, to train its spies in Japanese language and culture.
Japan has insisted that at least eight kidnap victims are still alive in North Korea.