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U.S. wants to close dialogue with N. Korea in single phase: official

All Headlines 17:23 November 30, 2009

By Tony Chang

SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- The U.S., which is set to hold direct bilateral talks with North Korea next week to lure the country back to denuclearization talks, wants the contact to be a one-off event but the North is expected to attempt to drag out the two-way dialogue, a senior Seoul official said Monday.

U.S. special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, is scheduled to fly to Pyongyang on Dec. 8 on a mission to persuade Pyongyang to return to the six-party nuclear disarmament forum it quit earlier this year. It will be the North's first one-on-one dialogue with the U.S. Barack Obama administration, which took office in January.

"North Korea will likely try to drag out the bilateral meeting with the U.S., while the U.S. is trying to finish the contact as a one-off event," a senior diplomatic official told reporters, requesting anonymity.

The official said that Bosworth intends to enter North Korea with the mission of bringing the communist state back to the six-party talks.

When asked on whether the two countries could later raise the level of bilateral talks to the Cabinet-level, the official said that such prospects were "still premature."

"If Bosworth goes to North Korea and produces some results on achieving irreversible denuclearization, Secretary Hillary Clinton could possibly go to Pyongyang, but looking at the North's position so far, that seems unlikely."

Pyongyang also seems to want recognition as a nuclear state, similar to India and Pakistan, according to the official, who added that such a demand would most likely not be met.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in October that his country would rejoin the multilateral nuclear forum, depending on the outcome of its bilateral talks with the U.S. His remarks were widely seen as a hint that the North may opt to rejoin the stalled six-party forum. The other parties involved are South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

As a precondition of its return to the nuclear negotiations, North Korea still insists on the establishment of a peace regime with the U.S., the official said. Pyongyang's media routinely calls for the U.S. to replace the Korean War armistice agreement with a peace treaty to be signed between it and the U.S.

The foreign ministry official said that Bosworth will fly to North Korea by way of Seoul and stop over in Seoul on his way to Washington after the planned trip to the North.

odissy@yna.co.kr
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