’NK ready to start 6-party talks’
By Kim Tae-jong, Kim Young-jin
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has expressed his desire to resume the six-party denuclearization talks without preconditions, saying it was the dying wish of his father, Kim Il-sung the founder of the country, the North’s state media said Wednesday.
The remarks from the Stalinist leader came in a written interview with Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency last Thursday, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“Our principle position remains unchanged that the six-way talks should be quickly resumed without preconditions,” the KCNA quoted Kim as saying, adding he was willing to respect a 2005 deal under the talks to swap its nuclear programs for economic and other incentives.
Though he simply reiterated long-held stances by Pyongyang, they came amid a flurry of diplomacy over how to resume the denuclearization-for-aid forum.
Observers said the interview is likely meant to add momentum for the resumption of the talks as Washington and Pyongyang are expected to hold a second round of similar talks in Geneva next week.
Efforts to kick start negotiations — which encompass the United States, Japan, Russia and host China — have picked up speed since July after surprise North-South denuclearization talks. It was only Kim’s third written interview ever, Yonhap News reported.
Seoul and Washington want the North to halt its uranium-enrichment program and allow international inspectors back into the country among other moves before resuming the talks, which the Stalinist state stormed away from in 2009 in response to international sanctions over its missile and nuclear tests.
Regional tensions have been high since last year, when the regime launched two deadly attacks against the South and disclosed the long-suspected uranium program.
Regarding the North’s relationship with the U.S., Kim said it would improve once Washington abolished its hostile stance against it.
He also said relations between North Korea and Russia would be further developed though a proposed project to pipe Siberian gas to the South via the North, adding it would bring benefits to people in both countries. The project has been supported by President Lee Myung-bak.