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North Korea Calls 2005 Denuclearization Pact 'Outdated'
A senior North Korean foreign policy official on Tuesday said a September 2005 joint statement that commits his country to verifiable denuclearization had become "outdated," the Yonhap News Agency reported.
Under the accord, which emerged from the now-defunct six-nation talks, Pyongyang "committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards."
North Korean Foreign Ministry Deputy Director Choi Myung Nam asserted to reporters that "the Sept. 19 joint statement states obligations by the U.S., South Korea, and Japan. It is nonsense that they call for us to abide by the obligations, while they don't abide by their obligations."
Choi's remarks build on past statements by Pyongyang that it will never relinquish its atomic arms efforts so long as Washington remains similarly armed. "We won't give up our nuclear weapons unless the U.S. withdraws its hostile policy against our country," the diplomat said in Brunei on the sidelines of a yearly Southeast Asia security forum.
North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun, who also participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations confab, called on Washington to "accept our offer of high-level talks without preconditions."
The minister was quoted by Choi as saying, "the U.S. must positively respond to our sincere and courageous decision [to offer talks] without preconditions if it is truly interested in ending the vicious circle of intensifying tension on the Korean Peninsula," the Associated Press reported.
The Obama administration has been unimpressed with the pariah country's recent calls for talks absent any moves on its part to signal a commitment to freezing its nuclear weapons work. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday emphasized in remarks to journalists at the ASEAN forum that the foreign ministers from South Korea, Japan, and China are all in agreement on the importance of North Korean denuclearization.
Russia's foreign minister -- in two-way talks with his South Korean opposite, Yun Byung-se -- also voiced his government's position that the North must give up its nuclear arms program, according to Seoul. Moscow is also a participant of the six-nation talks, which have not been held since December 2008.
North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan departed on Tuesday for Russia, where he was expected to argue his government's position on how six-party negotiations should be resumed.
Pyongyang's Pak shook hands with Yun at an ASEAN dinner for foreign ministers. It is not yet known if the two men exchanged words, Yonhap reported.. Both Koreas have voiced a desire to improve North-South relations but have thus far failed to hold any high-level talks.
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