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N.K. to return to nuclear talks but progress unlikely: former U.S. envoy

All Headlines 18:36 April 07, 2010

By Kim Young-gyo

HONG KONG, April 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is likely to return to the six-party nuclear talks out of its economic need, but that is no guarantee of progress in the negotiations, a former senior U.S. diplomat said Wednesday.

The North Koreans "are looking for ways to get back into the six-party talks to get tangible economic assistance in exchange for promises of nuclear disarmament," John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said here.

"Economic conditions in North Korea have deteriorated, so they need to seek to alleviate the situation through talks to relieve economic pressure," he told Yonhap News after his speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club.

Pyongyang has shunned the multilateral talks since December 2008 and has since conducted its second nuclear test and launched a long-range rocket that the U.S. and its allies say was an intercontinental ballistic missile test.

North Korea insists the U.N. sanctions, imposed as punishment for the nuclear and missile tests, be lifted before it returns to the six-nation talks also involving South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.

Bolton, one of the most vociferous critics of engagement with North Korea, said the North's return to the talks is no guarantee of progress.

"The North Koreans are not going to be talked out of any nuclear weapons," he said. "North Korea has made four sets of commitments since 1994, and has never followed through on them."

The U.S. approach should focus on North Korea's regime collapse, he argued. The "North Korea regime is fragile. The U.S. policy should seek the reunification" of the two Koreas, he said.

In his speech to the club, Bolton was harsh on U.S. President Barack Obama, criticizing his "lack of interest" in foreign policy.

Obama "is not fundamentally motivated when he gets up in the morning by concerns about international affairs or American security. He is motivated by a desire to restructure the American health, financial system," he said.


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