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North Korea And Six Party Talks

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has welcomed North Korea’s decision to return to the six-party talks on North Korean nuclear disarmament. She stressed that resuming the talks is only a first step:

“What we really need is a strategic decision on the part of the North that they are indeed ready to give up their nuclear weapons because without that, these talks cannot be successful.”

The six-party talks are aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The parties to the talks are the United States, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea. The talks began in 2003, but earlier this year, North Korea issued a statement saying it was suspending its participation in the talks.

Secretary of State Rice said earlier rounds of the talks fell into a pattern of brief sessions with long intervening periods during which North Korea continued to work on its nuclear weapons capability. “That pattern has to be broken,” she said.

Ms. Rice praised a proposal by the government of South Korea to deliver electricity to North Korea in exchange for an agreement by Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapon programs. “The good thing about the South Korean proposal,” she said, ”is that for the first time, we have a comprehensive proposal on energy that is non-nuclear. That is a major step forward and does diminish considerably the proliferation risks that were even associated with earlier efforts to fulfill energy needs.”

Secretary of State Rice said the proposal the U.S. made at the last round of six-party talks had given North Korea good reason to give up its nuclear weapons programs. Under that proposal, North Korea’s security and economic needs would be addressed. In addition, President Bush has pledged that the U.S. would not attack North Korea.

Secretary of State Rice said that a clear principle that five parties to the six-party talks have been operating under is, “The Korean Peninsula has to be non-nuclear. And that means that something has to be done about the North Korean nuclear weapons programs.”

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.