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North Korea Nuclear Negotiator: Lift Sanctions First December 16, 2006

Posted by notapundit in World News.

BEIJING (AP)–North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator said Saturday that Washington needs to lift financial sanctions against Pyongyang and drop its hostile attitude before the regime will consider abandoning its nuclear program.

“As long as we need a deterrent we don’t have any reason to abandon it (the nuclear program) now,” Kim Kye Gwan told reporters after arriving in Beijing for talks set to resume Monday, according to Japan’s Kyodo news agency.

“The biggest problem is that the United States needs to change its hostile policy against North Korea,” he said. “When they change their policy from a hostile stance to one of peaceful coexistence the problem can be resolved.”

North Korea walked away from the talks – which also include China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States – 13 months ago.

North Korea agreed at the close of the last session of talks in September 2005 to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees and aid. But Washington imposed financial sanctions against a Macau-based bank on suspicions it was laundering counterfeit money for the North Koreans. Angered by the move, Pyongyang withdrew from the talks two months later.

Kim called the U.S. lifting of financial sanctions against it a “precondition” to moving forward with the negotiations.

“When it comes to the outlook of the six-party talks, it’s hard to be optimistic,” Kim said. He said that the North’s demands were made clear in talks with the U.S. side in Beijing last month.

“The U.S. knew what we wanted when they went back (to Washington), so we have to wait and see what answers the U.S. will bring when the talk begins,” Kim said.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited a South Korean Embassy official as saying that Kim may have a bilateral meeting later Saturday with his South Korean counterpart, Chun Yung-woo, who was due to arrive in Beijing in the afternoon.

North Korea agreed to return to the negotiating table weeks after conducting its first-ever nuclear weapon test Oct. 9.


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