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U.S. reassures plans to engage N. Korea bilaterally on denuclearization

All Headlines 04:26 May 09, 2009

By Hwang Doo-hyong

WASHINGTON, May 8 (Yonhap) -- The United States said Friday that it is ready to engage North Korea bilaterally to reinforce multinational talks on North Korea's denuclearization.

The remarks by State Department spokesman Robert Wood come amid threats by North Korea to abandon the six-party talks in retaliation for the U.N. Security Council's imposition of financial and trade embargoes of three North Korean firms after Pyongyang's rocket launch April 5.

In a fresh threat, North Korea earlier in the day said it is useless to engage in dialogue with the U.S. due to its "hostile policy" toward the North, and reconfirmed its pledge to bolster its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to a possible attack from the U.S. and its allies.

Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea, met with South Korean officials in Seoul Friday.

"They agreed that the six-party process remains the heart of the effort to achieve the goal of a verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but the United States is prepared to deal with North Korea bilaterally in a way that reinforces the multilateral process," Wood said.

Bosworth will fly to Tokyo Monday and return to Washington the following day, Wood said, adding that Ambassador Sung Kim, special envoy to the six-party talks, will continue his trip to Moscow before coming back home Thursday.

The delegation has no plans to visit North Korea, the spokesman said.

The trip is the second of its kind since February, when Bosworth took office as U.S. President Barack Obama's point man on North Korea.

While in Beijing and Seoul, Bosworth said he was ready to deal with North Korea both bilaterally and through the six-party talks.

North Korea rebuffed a proposed trip to Pyongyang by Bosworth in early March amid allegations Pyongyang was upping the ante before engaging Washington bilaterally for a breakthrough in the six-party talks, which have been on and off for the past six years.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week described the chances of North Korea returning to the six-party talks as "implausible if not impossible."

North Korea has threatened to restart its nuclear facilities and conduct further nuclear and ballistic missile tests unless the Security Council apologizes for its condemnation of Pyongyang's rocket launch.

Pyongyang allegedly aims to revive the bilateral talks with Washington that were suspended by the George W. Bush administration.

Bush came up with the six-party format after years without serious engagement with the North, which he depicted as part of an axis of evil.


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