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U.S. does not rule out 'parallel process' of peace treaty, nuclear talks with N.K.: State Department

All Headlines 06:36 March 04, 2016

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Yonhap) -- The United States does not rule out the possibility of pursuing a "parallel process" by which it holds peace treaty talks with North Korea in tandem with denuclearization negotiations, the State Department spokesman said Thursday.

"We haven't ruled out the possibility that there could sort of be some sort of parallel process here," State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a regular briefing. "But, and this is not a small 'but,' there has to be denuclearization on the peninsula and work through the six party process to get there."

As a way to defuse heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, China has proposed to pursue peace treaty talks and denuclearization negotiations with North Korea at the same time. A peace treaty replacing the 1953 armistice that halted the Korean War has long been a key demand from Pyongyang.

The U.S. and South Korea have already rejected the proposal, saying denuclearization must be the priority.

On Thursday, however, Kirby appeared to be putting more of the focus on leaving open the possibility of a parallel process than on denuclearization, even though he stressed that nothing has changed in the U.S. position on the issue.

"I don't think we're in a position to rule out possible discussions on a peace process. But we're not going to decouple that in any way from what really needs to happen, which is complete denuclearization and adherence to the six party process," Kirby said.

When the North proposed peace treaty talks last year, Kirby said that the U.S. "made it clear that we weren't even going to begin to have that discussion until denuclearization was factored in."

"But nothing has changed on our policy that denuclearization has to be a part of this. And the six party talks is the process and the vehicle to do that," he said.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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