Top diplomats of the United States and South Korea Wednesday welcomed the decision of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to rejoin the six-party nuclear talks, urging it to dismantle nuclear program.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon held a joint press conference at the South Korean Foreign Ministry's building in central Seoul to brief reporters on their discussions.
Ban said he held meeting with Rice for about one hour earlier Wednesday and had a two-hour dinner meeting with her on Tuesday evening.
The two senior officials exchanged their views over the nuclear issue, Seoul-Washington alliance and possibility to hold summit meeting between South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and US President George W. Bush when the latter visits South Korea for the 2005 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meeting in November, according to Ban.
"Secretary Rice delivered appreciation to the South Korea's role in persuading the DPRK back to the six-party talks, and I appreciated recent contacts between the US and the DPRK which persuade the DPRK to return to the nuclear talks," said Ban.
Last Saturday, in a meeting between DPRK's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan and US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill in Beijing, the two sides agreed to reopen the stalled six-party nuclear talks in the last week of July.
On the nuclear issue, Rice said Pyongyang's decision to return to the six-party talks is "a very good step," but it is "the first step."
The US senior official also urged the DPRK to "make strategic decision to scrap its nuclear program."
On the energy proposal raised by the South Korean government, Rice said "We were briefed on of the proposal when the South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young visited Washington."
"The proposal provides opportunity to North Korea (DPRK) to address its energy need," said Rice, praising the proposal a " creative" one.
Rice said the issue is how the DPRK's energy needs will be met, "particularly in the face of significant proliferation concerns about nuclear energy in North Korea. That is what is so useful about the South Korean proposal."
The main point of the South Korean "important proposal" is if the DPRK drops nuclear program, South Korea will deliver electricity independently to the DPRK by building cross-border power supply line.
In the press conference, Rice also said currently she "has no plan to visit Pyongyang," since the nuclear issue "is not the problem for US alone," but a problem for South Korea, China, Japan and Russia as well as for the international community.
"The six-party nuclear talks is an appropriate (way) for resolving the nuclear issue," stressed Rice.
Seoul is Rice's last leg of her four-nation Asian tour which had brought her to China, Thailand, Japan. She arrived here on late Tuesday afternoon and is to leave here for home early Wednesday afternoon.