North Korea’s Kim Expresses Readiness to Resume Nuclear Talks

Posted October 19th, 2011 at 3:35 pm (UTC-5)
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North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong Il has expressed readiness to return to stalled negotiations on his country's nuclear disarmament.

Mr. Kim told the Russian official news agency Itar-Tass in an interview published Wednesday that the six-party talks should resume swiftly and without preconditions.

His government abandoned those talks in 2009 and had stalled many times before. So other parties in the talks, notably South Korea and the United States insist on some evidence that this time North Korea is serious about aid-for-disarmament talks.

Diplomatic activity between North Korea and the United States has intensified in recent months. Nuclear negotiators for the two sides plan to meet next week in Geneva for talks that could decide if the conditions to resume disarmament negotiations are right.

U.S. and North Korean officials spoke on the issue last month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Russia and China, two other parties in the six-nation talks, have pressed their isolated and impoverished neighbor to return to the negotiating table.

During a visit to Russia in August, his first since 2002, Mr. Kim also indicated he is ready to return to the six-nation talks. He blamed North Korea's nuclear programs on the United States, saying it constantly threatens his country's sovereignty and security. He said he is prepared to normalize relations with Washington if it abandons what he called its “hostile policy” toward his country.

In his written responses to Itar-tass, Mr. Kim said North Korea and Russia agreed to cooperate on infrastructure and other projects, including a pipeline that would take Russian gas through the Korean peninsula to other Asian destinations.