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U.S. withholds comment on Park's proposal for five-party talks

All News 02:24 January 23, 2016

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (Yonhap) -- The State Department on Friday withheld comment on South Korean President Park Geun-hye's proposal to hold five-party nuclear talks excluding North Korea, only saying the U.S. is open to dialogue with Pyongyang and the communist nation should take meaningful steps toward denuclearization.

Park made the suggestion earlier Friday during an annual policy briefing from the foreign, unification and defense ministries, raising questions about the effectiveness of the stalled six-party talks and calling for "creative approaches" to deal with the problem.

Asked for comment on Park's proposal, the State Department only repeated its existing positions.

"We remain open to dialogue with the DPRK, with the aim of returning to credible and authentic negotiations on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But the onus is on North Korea to take meaningful actions toward denuclearization and refrain from provocations," State Department spokesperson Katina Adams.

She made no mention of Park's proposal for five-party talks.

But Amb. Sung Kim, the State Department's special representative for North Korea policy, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in October that the U.S. is interested in holding a five-party meeting and such a gathering would be useful.

"It's something that we've been very interested in pursuing. I think it would make a lot of sense for us to have a five-party gathering in which all five of us at one time share notes and try to come up with a common strategy," Kim said at the time.

"I do think it would be useful for us try to organize a five-party gathering to coordinate our efforts. Some of the parties have been cautious about the signal that a five-party gathering would send. But I believe that it would be quite useful," he said.

The six-party talks aimed at resolving the North Korean standoff have been stalled since late 2008. North Korea demands the unconditional resumption of negotiations, while the U.S. says that Pyongyang must first take concrete steps demonstrating its denuclearization commitments.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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