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U.S. to make efforts to revive stalled 6-way talks: White House

All Headlines 04:59 April 16, 2009

By Hwang Doo-hyong

WASHINGTON, April 15 (Yonhap) -- The United States Wednesday said that it will try to persuade North Korea to come back to six-party talks on ending North Korea's nuclear programs despite the North's reluctance after a U.N. rebuke over its recent rocket launch.

"It was important what the U.N. Security Council did, while at the same time we have to look forward and figure out ways to continue toward the agreement that ends the nuclear program of North Korea," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The spokesman was referring to the U.N. Security Council presidential statement adopted Monday to condemn North Korea's rocket launch last week and call for strict implementation of sanctions under U.N. Resolution 1718.

The resolution, adopted in 2006 after North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear tests, has been mostly neglected due to lack of proper implementation measures.

North Korea reacted strongly Tuesday, threatening to boycott the six-party talks for good, restart its disabled nuclear facilities and strengthen its nuclear deterrent.

"I think the next U.S. step is involving each of the nations that take part in these talks to help also convince the North Koreans to come back and be part of a constructive negotiation," Gibbs said. "We obviously think that's in the best interest of the North Koreans as well as the rest of the world."

The spokesman said, "That's what this president will continue to do."

He recalled the six-party deal signed in September 2005 for the North's denuclearization.

"All those involved are anxious for the North Koreans to come back to the table, the same place where in September of 2005 they made an agreement to dismantle their nuclear program," he said.

The deal, calling for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs in return for energy and economic aid and diplomatic recognition by the U.S. and its allies, has been deadlocked since December as North Korea refused to accept a verification regime for its nuclear facilities.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood, meanwhile, said that U.S. monitors were preparing to leave the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, at the request of the North Korean authorities made soon after the Security Council's adoption of the statement.

North Korea vehemently denounced the statement as an infringement upon its sovereign right to send a satellite into space as part of a peaceful space program.

"The U.S. government experts and staff monitoring the shutdown and disablement of the Yongbyon facilities have been asked by North Korean authorities to depart the DPRK," Wood said. "Our team on the ground is making preparations to leave. We are discussing next steps on this matter with the DPRK." DPRK is North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The IAEA informed members of the Board of Governors on Tuesday that the DPRK had decided to cease all cooperation immediately with the IAEA, and requested IAEA inspectors to leave the DPRK at the earliest possible time," he said.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have been monitoring the disabling of the North's nuclear reactor and other nuclear facilities under the September 2005 agreement.

The disabling is the second phase of the deal in which Pyongyang is to get 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid. The third and final phase calls for the complete dismantlement of the North's nuclear programs in return for economic and political benefits.

The Obama administration has asked Congress for US$142 million for the dismantlement phase.

"This money was being put forth to help with phase three, assuming that we were able to get to phase three," Wood said. "But the important thing here is to keep in mind the bigger, much larger goal that we all want to see. And that's denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

hdh@yna.co.kr
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