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(LEAD) U.S. expresses support for 5-way N. Korea denuclearization talks

All News 12:52 January 23, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional information, more background in paras 4-7)

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- The United States on Saturday voiced its support for five-way talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea proposed by South Korean President Park Geun-hye, noting they will be a "useful step."

"The United States supports President Park's call for a five-party meeting. We believe coordination with the other parties would be a useful step in our ongoing efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through credible and authentic negotiations," a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Seoul said in a short statement. The spokesman asked not to be identified.

The statement came one day after the South Korean head of state proposed resuming the denuclearization talks.

The proposed five-way dialogue will involve the five other members of what are known as the six-party talks, except North Korea. They are South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia. The communist North has been boycotting the talks since April 2009.

"We should find various and creative approaches, including attempting to hold five-way talks excluding North Korea," Park said Friday in a meeting with officials from the foreign and unficiation ministries.

Park's proposal follows what Pyongyang claims to have been a successful detonation of a hydrogen bomb on Jan. 6, marking the country's first hydrogen bomb test though many, including the United States, believe the test may have been a failure or involved a less advanced nuclear weapon.

The North had conducted three nuclear tests, reportedly involving plutonium-based bombs, in 2006, 2009 and 2013.


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