Russia is ready to take part in multilateral talks following the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) softened its stance on the nuclear stand-off, a senior Russian diplomat said Monday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov voiced Russia's position in response to a DPRK statement Saturday that Pyongyang would not stick to any particular dialogue format for settling the nuclear issue if the United States drops its anti-DPRK policy.
A day later after Pyongyang softened its demand for direct bilateral negotiations, US President George W. Bush said that prospects looked better for multilateral talks to resolve a nuclear standoff with the DPRK.
As "Washington has read the signal given by Pyongyang to be ready for talks on nuclear problems in different formats under certain circumstances," said the Russian diplomat, "we, certainly,welcome the change of tone in the US policy".
Losyukov said Russia "is ready to take part in multilateral discussions." "We will actively use these opportunities because we were against any conflict on the Korean peninsula," the deputy minister stressed.
South Korean officials said the collapse of Saddam's regime might have induced the DPRK to make the surprise change in its stance.
The nuclear crisis erupted last October when Washington said the DPRK had admitted to running a secret nuclear program in breach of a 1994 bilateral accord.
The US suspended fuel deliveries to the DPRK. In response, the DPRK kicked out international weapons inspectors, withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and later reactivated a nuclear reactor for purpose of generating electricity.
Pyongyang has preferred holding bilateral talks with the United States, and Russia has been trying to arrange direct dialogues between the DPRK and the United States. However, Washington has rejected such negotiations, insisting on dealing with the issue within a multilateral framework.