08/20/2009, 00.00
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U.S. sees "positive signs" for a resumption of dialogue with Pyongyang on nuclear program

Bill Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the UN, meets a delegation from North Korea. The regime calls for "direct dialogue" with Washington setting aside six-party talks. The North Korean delegation to attend the funeral of Kim Dae-jung made up of close associates of Kim Jong-il.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Pyongyang has sent "positive signals" on the basis of which it seems determined to "resume the dialogue with the United States" on its nuclear program. So says Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, after a meeting with a North Korean Delegation in Santa Fe. North Korea is seeking to promote bilateral talks with Washington, while 6 party talks have been stalled for months.

Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under the Clinton administration, referring to a " drop in tensions" since the diplomatic trip to North Korea of the former president, after which Pyongyang released U.S. journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling. The North Korean regime does not seem to intent on resuming multilateral talks - which involved North Korea, South Korea, United States, Japan, China and Russia - preferring direct dialogue with Washington.  

The governor of New Mexico confirmed that Pyongyang "obviously used the journalists as a bargaining chip," and it now expects a "gesture" from the U.S. as a reward. "The point is whether to proceed - Richardson continues - with the face to face bilateral talks, which is what North Korea wants, or use the structure of the Six Party talks that have always been supported by the United States."  

White House denies all involvement in the meeting between Richardson and the North Korean delegation, stressing that the position of Obama remains unchanged. "Our goal is the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula - says Ian Kelly - spokesman for the U.S. State Department - and, of course, we want to see progress in this direction."  

Pyongyang has also confirmed that it will send a high-level delegation to the funeral of South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, leader of the political thaw between the two Koreas, who died August 18 last. It will include Kim Ki-nam, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, and Kim Yang-gon, director of the North Korean department responsible for relations between Seoul and Pyongyang. They are two close collaborators of the "dear leader" Kim Jong-il; in the late afternoon today, the South Korean government should authorize their journey.

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