North Korea may offer to dismantle its nuclear weapons program
if the United States removes its nuclear weapons from South Korea
and other countries in the region, a senior North Korean diplomat
said Wednesday, the Interfax news agency reported.
The official also said North Korea was ready to return to the
negotiating table on condition the issue of lifting US economic
sanctions would be discussed, according to the report.
"In exchange for its nuclear disarmament, it (North Korea) will
demand the withdrawal of the US nuclear weapons from South Korea
and other countries of the region," Interfax quoted the unnamed
official as saying.
The United States maintains military forces in South Korea,
Japan and in the US territory of Guam, an island in the western
The official spoke to the China branch of the Interfax news
agency and the report was datelined Hong Kong.
RIA-Novosti news agency, however, quoted an official
representative of North Korea's Consulate General in Hong Kong as
saying he doubted the veracity of such media reports.
At the same time, the unnamed official confirmed his country's
stance that were North Korea to disarm, other countries in the
region should follow suit.
"The position of North Korea is that the denuclearization of the
Korean Peninsula must not consist solely of the denuclearization of
North Korea," the official was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti.
Interfax quoted its source as accusing the United States of
stalling the resumption of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear
arms program, saying its conditions were unacceptable for
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said on
Tuesday the next meeting of the six-party talks on North Korea was
unlikely to take place before 2007, Interfax news agency
North Korea has agreed to return to the stalled talks - also
including South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia -
which it had boycotted for a year. Some had expected the talks to
resume this month.
"Taking into consideration the coming Christmas holidays, every
day the possibility that the talks will restart in December is
lower," Alexeyev told Interfax.
No date has been finalized for the resumption of talks, he
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said
the United States would like the six-party talks to resume before
the end of this year but he said it was important all the
groundwork was done before such discussions began.
(China Daily December 7, 2006)