Clinton Says North Korea Must Change Before Direct Diplomacy with US

Posted May 4th, 2012 at 7:20 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington wants to engage diplomatically with North Korea, but only if its leaders change course and “put their people first.”

In a speech she was scheduled to deliver Friday at annual bilateral talks in Beijing, Clinton says, if Pyongyang focuses on feeding and educating it citizens and “rejoining the international community”, the United States will “welcome them and work with them.”

Clinton also praised China's role in dealing with North Korea, the isolated nation's main ally, and pledged the two superpowers will work to convince North Korea that its “strength and security will come from prioritizing people, not provocation.”

The United States and North Korea reached an agreement in February under which the North had agreed to suspend its nuclear weapons and missile programs, in exchange for a delivery of 240,000 tons of badly needed food aid from the U.S.

But Washington scrapped the deal after North Korea launched a rocket last month. Pyongyang said the launch was to place a weather satellite into orbit, but the Obama administration argued it was a test of a long-range ballistic missile that could carry warheads.

The rocket failed shortly after launch.