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(2nd LD) U.S. envoy criticizes N. Korea for 'directly rejecting' denuclearization

All Headlines 20:39 September 29, 2014

(ATTN: ADDS photo)

BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. special envoy condemned North Korea Monday for being increasingly recalcitrant about international calls to honor its denuclearization pledges but stressed that Washington and Beijing have "firmly" agreed on the importance of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Ambassador Glyn Davies, who serves as Washington's special envoy for North Korea policy, met with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei in Beijing earlier in the day. The China trip is the first leg of the envoy's Asian tour that will also take him to South Korea and Japan later this week.

"In terms of where we are with North Korea, let me just say that there are troubling, further signs that the DPRK (North Korea) is even more directly rejecting its responsibility to live up to its obligations to denuclearize," Davies told reporters.

While the U.S., China, South Korea and Japan have been discussing ways to compel North Korea to get back to the path of denuclearization, Davies said, "Instead, they are moving further and further away from that."

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Davies called attention to a resolution adopted by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week that unanimously condemned North Korea for trying to develop its nuclear capabilities, including the restart of a reactor that many analysts say can produce nuclear bomb material.

Describing the IAEA resolution as a "very important result," Davies accused North Korea of having expanded its uranium enrichment facilities in addition to restarting the 5-megawatt reactor at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon.

Asked about his assessment of China's efforts to curb the North's nuclear and missile programs, Davies said, "China and the U.S. agree very firmly and strongly on the fundamentals of this issue and the importance of denuclearization on the Peninsula, the North Korean denuclearization."

"So, the area of agreement between the U.S. and China, I think, continues to grow," he said.

China's customs data showed Beijing has not shipped crude oil to Pyongyang in the first eight months of this year, but diplomatic sources in Beijing cautioned against reading too much into the official trade figures, because China has been providing crude oil to North Korea in the form of grant aid and such shipments have not been recorded on paper.

In responding to a question about the eight-month absence of oil shipments from China to North Korea and whether the move could put more pressure on Pyongyang, Davies said without elaborating that the U.S. appreciates "a number of Chinese steps that they have taken in recent months."

The six-party talks, which bring together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S., have been deadlocked since 2009. North Korea wants an unconditional resumption of negotiations, but South Korea and the U.S. demand that Pyongyang first take concrete steps toward its denuclearization commitment.

While the negotiations were idled, the North conducted two nuclear tests and a series of long-range rocket launches, fueling concern the regime is closer to developing nuclear missiles.

The trip also comes as the North is holding three American citizens captive, possibly as leverage to reopen negotiations with Washington. Reports have said that the U.S. has offered to send Davies to the North to negotiate the release of the three, but Pyongyang has rejected the proposal.

Davies said it is "very frustrating" that North Korea has detained the three Americans and uses them as a political "pawn," but disclosed that behind-the-scenes diplomacy is under way to seek to release them.

"There are other efforts behind the scenes to seek to have this conversation with North Korea. They simply won't engage with us," Davies said. "Sadly, we just concluded that North Korea doesn't have any interest in coming back to the international system as a responsible country."


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