US welcomes Korea dialogue but seeks more

WASHINGTON - The United States on Monday welcomed fresh dialogue between North and South Korea but stood firm that it wanted Pyongyang not just to make overtures but to negotiate to end its nuclear program.
Senior North Korean officials on Sunday delivered a message from leader Kim Jong-Il on a trip to Seoul to mourn late president and Nobel laureate Kim Dae-Jung, the architect of reconciliation on the divided peninsula.

"We support a dialogue between North Korea and South Korea and we welcome meaningful steps that lead to a reduction of tension on the Korean peninsula," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.
But he added: "I would not say that we've seen really any progress toward our oft-stated goal and our clear position that we want to engage with North Korea to discuss the denuclearization issue in the six-party context."
North Korea has pushed for one-on-one talks with the United States after months of tension in which the communist state tested a nuclear bomb, fired a missile over Japan and rejected a six-nation denuclearization pact.
Kelly reiterated the US position that Washington would hold bilateral talks with the North but only within the context of the six-party talks, which also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.
Kelly said that the US delegation to Kim Dae-Jung's memorial service, led by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, made no contact with the North Koreans.
Former president Bill Clinton visited Pyongyang on August 4 to free two US journalists but President Barack Obama's administration has insisted it was not an overture.

Monday, August 24th 2009

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