Tempering its earlier harsh rhetoric,
North Korea says it is willing to settle the standoff over its nuclear weapons
program through dialogue. The softer approach comes as South Korea's foreign
minister goes to Washington to discuss the dispute and as China suggests U.S.
policy toward the North should be changed.
North Korea said Tuesday through its state-run media that it wants to resolve
tensions with the United States through further dialogue. That is a shift from
recent threats to boost its nuclear arsenal unless Washington signs a non-aggression
treaty with Pyongyang.
The commentary also said North Korea will continue to take part in six-nation
talks. China, the North's top ally, hosted a first round of talks last week
to help reduce tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
But after the talks ended, North Korea called them pointless and dismissed
the need for further meetings with the United States, South Korea, Japan, China
A Chinese official on Tuesday repeated a call for the United States to do
more to resolve the nuclear issue. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said
the North Korea issue is very complex, and he said that each party has its
own stand. He said that China hopes all parties will maintain close relations
and study each other's position to prepare for the next talks. He also said
that all six countries at the talks have agreed to avoid doing anything to
complicate the issue.
His comments follow a statement Monday from Wang Yi, China's chief delegate
to the six-party talks, in which Mr. Wang called U.S. policy toward North Korea
the main obstacle toward solving the nuclear tensions.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan is heading to Washington to
discuss the outcome of the Beijing talks, which ended without concrete progress.
The United States insists that North Korean halt its efforts to build nuclear
weapons before Washington will discuss economic aid and other issues. So far
the impoverished communist state has refused to do so, saying it must first
get a security guarantee from Washington.
North Korea says it has a nuclear deterrent force to protect itself from
the United States.
The United States set off the 11-month dispute last year when it said North
Korea had admitted having a secret nuclear weapons program, in violation of
several international accords.