North Korea’s nuclear envoy
By Jung Sung-ki
The United States turned down an offer by North Korea to dispatch its nuclear envoy to Washington following the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama Jan. 20, diplomatic sources here said Monday.
The communist state, through its United Nations mission office in New York, delivered the message last month that it could send Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan as a representative to the inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C., they said.
The message was conveyed to Obama's transition team via a non-profit U.S. organization, the Korea Society, they added.
But Obama's team expressed negative opinions on the proposal, said the sources.
The new U.S. administration wants to engage in talks with North Korea in a more prudent manner and would be unlikely to invite a North Korean envoy until it has established its policy toward the North, they said.
``North Korea appeared to offer the proposal to test the political waters in the new U.S. administration,'' a source said, asking not to be named.
The United States, however, wants to take a careful approach toward North Korean issues with the North's denuclearization process being stalled over ways to verify the regime's declaration of its nuclear materials and activities made in June last year.
The latest six-party talks ― involving the United States, the two Koreas, China, Russia and Japan ― ended without tangible results in Beijing last month.
North Korea insists it will not allow sampling at nuclear sites by U.S. experts as part of verification measures.
Under the so-called Feb. 13 deal reached in 2007, North Korea is supposed to receive one million tons of heavy fuel oil or its equivalent in aid and other political concessions from the five other countries, in return for disabling its nuclear facilities and programs.