DPRK leader says willing to negotiate with S. Korea, six-party members: Carter

08:44, April 29, 2011      

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Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter speaks at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, on April 28, 2011. Kim Jong-il, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is willing to negotiate any issues with South Korea and members of the stalled nuclear disarmament talks without precondition, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Thursday. (Xinhua/Park Jin Hee)

Kim Jong-il, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is willing to negotiate any issues with South Korea and members of the stalled nuclear disarmament talks without precondition, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Thursday.

Kim is also "specifically" willing to hold summit talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, said the U.S. ex-president, who flew directly to Seoul after wrapping up a three-day Pyongyang trip, adding he received a personal message from the DPRK leader.

"Although we did not meet with the leader of North Korea (DPRK), when we had already departed from our guest home, we were asked to come back to receive a personal message," Carter told reporters in Seoul, later clarifying it was a written message.

"He specifically told us that he is prepared for a summit meeting directly with President Lee Myung-bak at any time to discuss any subject directly between the two heads of state," he added.

DPRK officials are now "very willing to discuss nuclear issues and any other military issues" directly with South Korea, not only with the U.S. as Pyongyang previously insisted, Carter said.

While in Pyongyang, Carter wrote on his blog that Pyongyang officials, while they want to improve relations with their counterparts in Seoul and Washington, are still unwilling to give up its nuclear program "without some kind of security guarantee from the U.S.."

Pyongyang quit in 2009 the six-party talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear program, but has recently said it wants to return to the negotiations. It also revealed a new facility to enrich uranium, prompting Seoul to seek to refer the issue to the United Nations Security Council.

Seoul, after the fatal sinking of its warship and the exchange of fire with Pyongyang last year, has said its northern neighbor should take responsible steps before resuming any meaningful inter- Korean dialogue.

Pyongyang has long denied its responsibility for the warship sinking and claimed its shelling of a South Korean border island was for self defense.

Carter reaffirmed Pyongyang officials' stance on the issue, telling reporters that they did not admit their culpability and are not willing to apologize.

Carter and three other former state leaders and members of a group called "The Elders" have said their private mission is aimed at reducing tension on the Korean Peninsula and helping address issues including Pyongyang's denuclearization, a peace treaty between the two Koreas and food shortages of the DPRK.

Three other leaders are ex-Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, former Irish President Mary Robinson and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who all accompanied Carter to Seoul.

The Elders also called for global attention on chronic food shortages in the DPRK that is affecting lives of millions of people, criticizing South Korea and the United States for " deliberately" holding back food aid.

The 2002 Nobel peace prize winner, Carter made his crucial 1994 visit to Pyongyang, where he brokered a denuclearization deal between Pyongyang and Washington at a time of high tension over the DPRK's apparent nuclear ambition.

Source: Xinhua

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