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NK proposes senior-level talks with Washington

By Bai Tiantian (Global Times)

08:41, June 17, 2013

North Korea on Sunday proposed high-level talks with the US on easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and denuclearization on a global scale, only days after it canceled an official meeting with the South.

"We propose senior-level talks between ... the (North) and the US to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula and ensure peace and security in the region," the North's powerful National Defense Commission said in a statement carried by state media.

The North is willing to have "broad and in-depth discussions" on issues such as the building of "a world without nuclear weapons" being promoted by US President Barack Obama, it said, inviting the US to set the time and venue for the meeting.

"If the US has true intent on defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and ensuring peace and security in the US mainland and the region, it should not raise preconditions for dialogue and contact," it said.

The proposal came as the North canceled a rare high-level meeting between the two Koreas, which had been scheduled for June 12 and 13 and would have been the first such meeting in six years.

Tension has been high since the North's third nuclear test in February that triggered new UN sanctions.

Analysts said the proposal is a signal that the North is trying to get a grasp of what's really going on in the US before it can return to the Six-Party Talks but its overall strategy is to maintain its nuclear arsenal.

"The discussion of 'a world without nuclear weapons' implies that all the other nuclear nations have to give up their nuclear arsenals first. Such an unrealistic premise shows North Korea's determination to keep control over its nuclear weapons," Zhang Liangui, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, told the Global Times.

Zhang's remarks were echoed by Choi Choon-heun, an honorary scholar with the Korea Institute for National Unification, who labeled North Korea's proposal for a "world without nuclear weapons" as being "out of the question."

"Their strategy is to act like a nuclear nation even though the US and China do not recognize this," Choi told the Global Times.

In another move to step up pressure on Pyongyang, the chief nuclear envoys of the US, the South and Japan are to meet in Washington on Wednesday to resume the long-stalled talks.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who agreed at a summit with Obama earlier this month that the North must give up its nuclear arsenal, is also set to hold talks with the South's leader Park Geun-hye on June 27 when Park visits China.

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