DPRK's return to six-party talks still priority: U.S. envoy

14:50, February 26, 2010      

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U.S. special representative for the DPRK said Friday that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( DPRK)'s return to the stalled talks over its nuclear disarmament remains as the priority before initiating discussions on other issues, local media reported.

Wrapping up his two-day visit to Seoul, American envoy Stephen Bosworth told reporters that the U.S. can consider bettering diplomatic ties with the DPRK and replacing a truce with a peace treaty, which would officially end the 1950-1953 Korean War, once Pyongyang comes back to the negotiations table.

"The first and foremost among those is, of course, denuclearization, but we also recognize that it will be important to begin discussions on questions regarding a peace treaty, establishment of diplomatic relations and the issues of economic and energy assistance to North Korea (DPRK)," Bosworth was quoted as saying by Seoul's Yonhap News Agency, before leaving for Japan.

"We are prepared to do that in a normal course of events once we have come back into the six-party process and once we have begun to make significant progress, once again, in denuclearization," he reportedly said.

His remarks come at a time when a series of recent events raise hopes for Pyongyang's imminent return to the suspended six-party talks involving the DPRK, South Korea, China, U.S., Japan and Russia, which hit a snag since the DPRK boycotted the talks in protest over the U.N. sanctions. "We are also prepared to initiate work on other matters of the September 2005 statement," he added, referring to disarmament obligations Pyongyang pledged in the six- party framework, according to Yonhap.

Earlier in the day, Bosworth met with Seoul's point man on the DPRK, Unification Minister Hyun In-taek, to discuss the six-party talks and other issues related to the inter-Korean relations.

The two agreed that Pyongyang's unconditional return to the negotiation table is important, according to the ministry.

The envoy is scheduled to leave for home on Saturday after meeting with high-ranking officials in Tokyo.

Source: Xinhua
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