Talks between the United States and North Korea on normalizing
bilateral relations ended Tuesday, with both sides sounding
optimistic about further discussions.
US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he and
North Korea Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan had "very good
discussions" on comprehensive topics in a businesslike atmosphere
and that both sides felt optimistic that the normalization process
was on the right track.
"I would say there was a sense of optimism on both sides that we
will get through this 60-day period and we will achieve all of our
objectives that are set out in the Feb. 13 agreement," he said,
referring to an agreement reached last month at the six-party talks in Beijing that involve the
United States, North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia and
Kim, for his part, said the talks were "very good, constructive
"Wait and see about the results," the Yonhap news agency quoted
Kim as saying. "If I say everything now, it would not be fun
Kim was the highest-ranking North Korea official to visit the US
since 2000. He and Hill were meeting in the framework of the
Working Group on Normalization of DPRK-US Relations as agreed at
the third session of the fifth round of six-party talks.
The Feb. 13 agreement also called for the establishment of four
other working groups -- denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,
normalization of North Korea-Japan relations, economy and energy
cooperation, and Northeast Asia Peace and Security Mechanism.
Hill said the two sides spent a considerable amount of the more
than eight hours together on Monday and Tuesday looking forward to
the next phase, "which will be more difficult."
He stressed that North Korea should "fulfill their part of the
bargain -- which is complete denuclearization" before normalization
Hill said the two sides are looking forward to "additional
discussions" at the remainder of the Working Group and the
six-party delegation meetings in Beijing.
"It was useful for me to hear their plans for how they will
proceed to the next stage," said Hill. "So I think we also have the
will to move to the next stage."
"We'll have bilateral meeting in Beijing in the framework of the
During their talks in New York, Hill and Kim also discussed
political, legal and historic aspects in steps toward ending the
designation of North Korea as a state-sponsor of terrorism and
terminating the application of the US Trading with the Enemy Act
with respect to North Korea.
Under the Feb. 13 document, North Korea will shut down and seal
the Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility
and invite back IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring
In addition, the parties also agreed to the provision of
emergency energy assistance to North Korea in the initial phase,
and the assistance equivalent to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil will
commence within 60 days.
The normalization talks between the US and North Korea occurs at
a time when Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic
Energy Agency, prepares to visit Pyongyang on March 13 to discuss
how to monitor its promised dismantling of nuclear facilities.
(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2007)