The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is willing to return to six-party nuclear talks in July, as long as the United States stops its hostile policy towards Pyongyang, Republic of Korea (ROK) Unification Minister Chung Dong-young revealed on Friday after his Pyongyang visit.
Reading a brief statement at the Incheon International Airport, Chung said:
"(National Defense Commission) Chairman Kim Jong Il said the DPRK is willing to return to the six-party talks even in July, if the US surely recognizes and respects (the DPRK)."
Chung also quoted Kim as saying the inter-Korean agreement on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula remains "valid" and the DPRK has never given up such talks.
But the United States on Friday rejected Kim's remarks as "just more rhetoric".
A senior official from the administration of President George W. Bush told The Associated Press the remarks were not being taken seriously.
Earlier on Friday, the DPRK's top leader met and had lunch with Chung for about five hours. Chung led a 40-member ROK government delegation to Pyongyang on Tuesday for a joint celebration to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the inter-Korean summit meeting between ROK former President Kim Dae-jung and the DPRK top leader Kim Jong Il in June 2000.
The ROK and the DPRK ratified the Declaration on Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in February 1992.
China, the DPRK, the United States, Russia, the ROK and Japan have convened three rounds of six-party nuclear talks in Beijing, making efforts to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula that emerged in October 2002.
However, the fourth round of the multilateral talks failed to be convened as the DPRK refused to attend, blaming Washington's hostile policy towards the country. During his stay in Pyongyang, Chung also held meetings with Kim Yong Nam, president of the DPRK Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and Kim Ki Nam, vice-chairman of the DPRK Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.
In Beijing, former ROK Prime Minister Goh Kun said on Friday that China plays an indispensable role in solving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.
(China Daily June 18, 2005)