North Korea says will hold talks, but not with Bolton
By Samuel Len
SEOUL: North Korea said on Sunday it still was ready for six-way talks to resolve a crisis over its nuclear ambitions but it would have no dialogue with US envoy John Bolton after his sharp criticism of the country and its leader.
US Undersecretary of State Bolton, widely seen as “hawkish” on North Korea, earlier this week referred to life in the communist country as a “hellish nightmare,” where its leader Kim Jong-il lived like royalty while keeping hundreds of thousands of his people in prison camps and millions more mired in poverty. Analysts said North Korea’s decision not to pull out of six-way talks, in spite of the scathing US criticism, showed that the reclusive country had few options left. “If the six-way talks don’t take place, then what’s left are a tougher US stance and the United Nations Security Council,” said Yu Suk-ryul, a North Korea expert at the South Korea’s Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security.
North Korea said on Saturday that any move by the United States to bring the crisis to the UN Security Council would derail the planned talks and could lead to war.
North Korea and the United States said on Friday they had agreed to hold six-way talks on the nuclear standoff. China, Japan, Russia and South Korea will also attend. Pyongyang previously insisted on bilateral talks with the United States. Washington had rejected that option, demanding North Korea dismantle its nuclear weapons programmes first.
Talks without Bolton: North Korea signalled its continued desire for talks in a report by the official KCNA news agency. “There is no change in our stand on holding the six-party talks including the bilateral talks between the DPRK and the US for the peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula,” KCNA quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.
KCNA reports are known for their rhetorical style. The latest report spoke of Bolton’s “political vulgarity and psychopathological condition” and said North Korea would not deal with him or consider him an official of the US administration. Bolton has called for the United Nations to have its Security Council take “appropriate and timely action” to send a signal to the world it took the North Korean crisis seriously.
Inspections: In Japan, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said the inspection team would likely consist of experts mainly from the United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea. No government officials were immediately available to comment on the report, which quoted US and Japanese government sources. The planned inspection team would work independently of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, Yomiuri said.
The multinational group of experts would inspect not only the Yongbyon nuclear complex but also undeclared plutonium and uranium-enrichment facilities as well as facilities built to make and test detonators for nuclear weapons, Yomiuri said. —Reuters