- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Gates insists on bilateral Korean talks
SEOUL — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Friday called for Pyongyang to engage with Seoul as a precondition to the resumption of six-party nuclear negotiations, but a South Korean official said that no foundation is yet in place for bilateral talks.
“With regard to next steps on North Korea, diplomatic engagement is possible, starting with direct engagement between the DPRK and the South,” Mr. Gates said before a meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin.
At a subsequent meeting, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reportedly thanked Mr. Gates for last month’s U.S. support during defensive military exercises and stressed the importance of making progress on North Korean denuclearization before 2012.
That is the year North Korea has publicly set for becoming a “great and prosperous nation,” and marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the state’s founding father and “eternal president,” the late Kim Il-sung.
The U.S. defense secretary’s message demonstrated that Washington and Seoul are in policy lockstep following two deadly North Korean provocations last year — a torpedo attack on a South Korean warship and an artillery strike on a South-controlled island.
However, a senior South Korean official said Friday that the North has not yet responded to the South’s request for bilateral talks and admitted that the conditions Pyongyang would have to meet to prove its good faith have not been communicated to the isolated regime, or even finalized by Seoul.
Speaking to foreign reporters Friday, the official said that preconditions for a resumption of six-party talks are on a dual-track for North-South bilateral talks. One track would address North Korea’s military provocations and the other would “confirm the sincerity on the part of North Korea of its denuclearization commitment.”
Pressed on how North Korea might confirm its sincerity, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Pyongyang has not yet responded to the South’s suggestion to enter the two-track bilateral talks.
Moreover, while the South wants “a couple of benchmarks to give us an assurance that [the North Koreans] are sincere,” the official made clear the benchmarks have yet to be calibrated. “We are developing these.”
As for a recent North Korean offer to sell South Korea used plutonium fuel rods, the official essentially dismissed it, saying that such a purchase would have to be “part of a wider framework.”
Likewise, he said that in insisting on its own format for bilateral discussions, Seoul was dismissing North Korea’s earlier offer of talks covering joint tourism and business projects in the North, Red Cross negotiations, and unspecified preparatory dialogues.
The Seoul administration has come under heavy pressure to take a firm stance toward the North following the 2010 attacks, which killed 46 sailors, two Marines and two civilians.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- CURL: The modern GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- U.S. deploys 12 F-16 fighter jets to Poland as exercise in response to Ukraine situation
- High schooler suing parents for money shot down by judge
- Six Senate seats could hinge on Keystone pipeline
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again