US Korean Envoy ‘Optimistic” on New Nuclear Talks

Posted November 9th, 2011 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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A former U.S. envoy in charge of North Korean policy says multi-national talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's rogue nuclear weapons program could resume in the near future.

Diplomat Stephen Bosworth, in his first public comments since stepping down as U.S. policy chief last month, told the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations that he is optimistic that formal dialogue with the North could resume within months. His comments appeared Wednesday on the video website YouTube.

North Korea walked out of nuclear negotiations with the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia in 2009 and weeks later defied the international community with a second nuclear test and ballistic missile testing. Earlier this year, envoys from the impoverished North voiced interest in restarting formal negotiations, triggering preliminary talks with Washington weeks ago in Geneva.

Bosworth, who headed the U.S. delegation, says he found new momentum in the Geneva talks for the resumption of six-party negotiations.

In the interview, Bosworth also cautioned against abandoning efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula in the face of North Korean resistance.

In related developments, the U.S. State Department said last month that Pyongyang was seeking immediate international aid to ease a food crisis attributed by Western analysts to flooding and government mismanagement of resources.

South Korea has since announced it was resuming humanitarian assistance to the North through the United Nations for high-nutrition foods, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

For its part, the State Department says that any new U.S. aid will depend on a U.S. needs assessment and competing demands for famine relief elsewhere, including the Horn of Africa. No evaluation results have been released.