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U.S. not yet ready to return to six-party talks

By Matthew Rusling (Xinhua)

14:40, July 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Despite its intention to work with other partners to achieve denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, Washington is currently not quite ready to return to the six-party talks, U.S. experts say.

"I think the U.S. would say at this point it's premature to return to the six-party talks. And I think that China also understands that," said Bonnie S. Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

So China and the United States have to work together, along with South Korea, to make it clear to Pyongyang "what steps they have to take in order to get back to diplomacy," Glaser told Xinhua.

At their fifth round of Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) talks last week, China and the United States reiterated their commitment to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Weeks earlier, Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama agreed during their summit in California to cooperate on the issue.

The six-party talks stalled in 2009 after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) quit the process in protest of a UN statement condemning its long-range rocket test in mid-April that year.

Tensions over the peninsula have been high since December last year after the DPRK successfully launched a satellite into space. The country also conducted a nuclear test in February in defiance of international warnings.

However, it has recently softened its tone and proposed on June 16 to hold high-level talks with the United States. Kim Kye Gwan, the country's first deputy foreign minister, said later during a visit to China that the DPRK was ready to join in any form of talks, including the six-party talks, in order to resolve the nuclear issue through peaceful negotiations.

Washington responded to the DPRK proposal by saying that it wanted to see "credible" actions from the DPRK before sitting down for negotiations.

Meanwhile, China said all relevant parties should cherish recent positive momentum surrounding the Korean nuclear issue and make joint efforts to ease tensions and create conditions for an early resumption of the six-party talks.

Former U.S. Ambassador to China Stapleton Roy told Xinhua that the U.S. and Chinese positions on denuclearization "have been rather closely aligned."

"Both sides recognize that the purpose of the six-party talks that we would like to restart is denuclearization," said Roy, now director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center.

"So I think we have a shared interest in credible actions by North Korea (the DPRK) that would re-establish the possibility of denuclearization, otherwise we are not going to be able to enter into negotiations and the six-party talks," he said.

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