Secretary of State Colin Powell
says the United States is working on ideas for security assurances that might
persuade North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program. He spoke amid reports
that six-way talks on the issue brokered by China may resume before the end of
The United States has rejected North Korean demands for a military non-aggression
pact with Washington. But Mr. Powell says the Bush administration is working
on proposals for security assurances, short of a treaty, that might satisfy
The secretary's comments, after a meeting here with U.N. war crimes prosecutor
Carla Del Ponte, came amid media reports that North Korea is discussing with
China a resumption in December of the six-party talks on the nuclear issue
that began with an inconclusive round in Beijing in late August.
Mr. Powell said there is no date for new talks, but also suggested that informal
contacts with the other participants including North Korea were underway on
the key security issue.
"Nothing has been scheduled yet. We are in contact with our colleagues. We
are also in contact with the North Koreans through different channels. And
we have some ideas with respect to security assurances that we'll be presenting
in due course," Mr. Powell said.
In a session later Friday with wire-service reporters, Mr. Powell said the
envisaged commitment to North Korea's security would be public, in writing,
and hopefully multilateral.
He said U.S. experts have been drafting sample agreements based on historical
precedents and that the United States would begin, in the coming weeks, to
discuss the language with friends and allies who would presumably join a security
The six-party meeting hosted by China in August involved South Korea, Japan
and Russia along with the United States and North Korea.
North Korea has made security guarantees a pre-condition for discussion of
ending the nuclear weapons program it acknowledged having revived a year ago.
The Bush administration had previously said it was willing to put verbal
assurances of peaceful intent toward Pyongyang in writing, but that a non-aggression
treaty was out of the question in part because it would never get Senate ratification.