Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter wants the Obama administration to be more open to negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, United Press International reported on Wednesday.
"Ever since [President] Obama has been in office, there has been no six-party talk and no real communication with North Korea," Carter told the Japanese magazine Chuokoron on Tuesday.
The six-party talks refer to the regional aid-for-denuclearization negotiations involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States. The last round of talks was held in December 2008. While North Korea for years has said it is interested in reviving the nuclear talks, Washington says it will not resume negotiations until Pyongyang first makes a concrete demonstration of its commitment to permanent denuclearization.
Carter periodically inserts himself into the nuclear impasse over North Korea with trips to the isolated nation and calls for Washington to pay more attention to the plight of poor North Koreans. The well-known global humanitarian played a pivotal role in establishing a now-defunct 1994 accord that aimed to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons-related work.
"The biggest problem in the perpetuation of this threat to peace in that region is the unwillingness of others to talk to North Korea and to North Korean leaders," the former president said.
The North this week upped its rhetoric, saying it had placed its army on emergency standby for possible combat operations in response to the United States sending Navy ships to South Korea ahead of planned trilateral maneuvers with the South and Japan.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said involved parties should show prudence in handling the latest rise in Korean Peninsula tensions, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
"We call on all relevant parties to bear in mind the overall interests of this region ... keep calm, exercise restraint," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.