INDEPENDENT NEWS

US Cautiously Weighing Proposal to North Korea

Published: Wed 1 Oct 2003 09:57 PM
US Cautiously Weighing Proposal to North Korea
The United States is cautiously weighing a proposal to North Korea, mulling what it can give to the reclusive nation in return for the latter’s possible surrender of its nuclear ambitions, a senior Seoul official said upon returning from a meeting in Tokyo.
“We hope the U.S. will complete its proposal soon, but since the date for the second six-way talks has yet to be fixed, the U.S. thinks it will take more time and it will be more prudent on the issue,” Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck said on Wednesday (Oct. 1).
Lee came back from a meeting with U.S. and Japanese officials to discuss their joint strategy at the next round of six-way talks to be attended also by China and Russia.
“Due to North Korea’s claim that their main counterpart...is the U.S., the U.S. proposal will be very significant,” the diplomat said in an interview with local radio station CBS.
Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Yoon Young-kwan conveyed the relatively positive mood in Washington prior to the envisioned six-way security talks.
“As Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly said, the United States’ position isn’t such that North Korea has to take all measures (to give up its nukes) first,” Yoon said.
“On top of Washington officials’ comments that they have no intention of invading the North, the U.S. is considering various means to meet Pyongyang’s security concerns,” the minister added during a weekly media briefing with reporters.
Yoon stressed that the government has made no decision whatsoever on whether to accept the United States’ request for dispatch of combat troops to Iraq, and denied reports that the Seoul government is hastening towards a decision to send the troops.
“Nothing has been decided at this point,” the minister said. He was reported to have spoken in favor of the troop dispatch in a cabinet meeting the day before.
The mood in Seoul is turning in favor of the troop dispatch, with the voice of realists, who think Seoul can benefit much from the resulting reinforced ties with Washington if it sends troops, apparently winning over idealists.
“There may be different opinions from the staff level, but the president will make the final decision, who will also determine (the decision’s) timing and content,” Yoon said.

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