(NEW YORK) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Sunday that the United States has invited North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kae-gwan, who has been North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator in the long-stalled Six Party Talks, to New York for talks with U.S. officials later this week.
The meetings follow talks last week between North and South Korean officials that were aimed at re-starting negotiations. At the time Clinton said nuclear talks could not resume until there was progress between the two sides.
“This will be an exploratory meeting to determine if North Korea is prepared to affirm its obligations under international and Six Party Talk commitments, as well as take concrete and irreversible steps toward denuclearization,” Clinton said in a statement this morning.
“As we have stated repeatedly, we are open to talks with North Korea, but we do not intend to reward the North just for returning to the table. We will not give them anything new for actions they have already agreed to take. And we have no appetite for pursuing protracted negotiations that will only lead us right back to where we have already been. The U.S. position remains that North Korea must comply with its commitments under the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six Party Talks, relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and the terms of the Armistice Agreement,” she added, staking out a tough US position well in advance.
The Six Party Talks have been dormant for about two years, after North Korea walked away from the table when the UN Security Council slapped more sanctions on Pyongyang following its second nuclear test. Last year, however, they called for their resumption.
Although negotiations have stood still since then, much has changed. Last year tensions with South Korea flared over the sinking of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan and on the shelling by North Korea of an island along the border. North Korea revealed what appeared to be a highly evolved uranium enrichment program to visiting American experts last fall. Yet at the same time the country is suffering from massive food shortages and Pyongyang is desperate to get international food aid.
A team of U.S. experts visited the country earlier this year to assess whether the United States will participate in food aid programs, but they have made no decision yet.
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