07/25/2011, 00.00
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US open to Pyongyang over nuclear disarmament

After a two-year deadlock, US Secretary of State Clinton invites North Korea’s deputy foreign minister to New York for talks on restarting stalled denuclearisation talks. However, “we do not intend to reward the North just for returning to the table” or “give them anything new for actions they have agreed to take,” she said. A ruined Communist regime must accept.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – After two years of a diplomatic freeze, Seoul and Washington appear ready to renew nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea. Following banned nuclear tests, Pyongyang was kept away from six-party talks (North and South Korea, United States, Russia, China and Japan) and placed under heavy economic sanctions. Today, even though it is unwilling to make any concessions, the United States wants to overcome the current impasse.

On behalf of the US government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited North Korean Foreign Minister Kim Kae-gwan to New York later this week for discussions on the next steps needed to restart the stalled denuclearisation talks.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum, Clinton said however that whilst the US was open to talks with Pyongyang, "we do not intend to reward the North just for returning to the table." In addition, "We will not give them anything new for actions they have already agreed to take," she added.

In a joint statement released Saturday, the United States, South Korea and Japan also said Pyongyang must "address" its secretive uranium enrichment program before the talks could restart.

For its part, Seoul has decided to separate the nuclear issue from the North’s deadly attacks on a South Korean ship and a South Korean-controlled island, which killed a number of civilians.

This is a step forward, albeit due to opposite pushes. The North Korean regime is close to ruin, with the latest economic sanctions further undermining its already fragile economy. Almost the entire population leaves below the poverty line and there are no prospects for change in the near future.

At the same time, the United States, South Korea and Japan have realised that North Korea’s main ally, China, is not going to be tough on its protégé. Thus, diplomacy is the only step other than force.
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