S. Korean official: No talks in sight with the North

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SEOUL — Prospects for resuming multilateral talks over North Korea’s nuclear weapons are not “bright,” says South Korea’s top negotiator, offering a gloomy assessment of the North’s behavior in the wake of its recent leadership change.

“If somebody asks me what the prospects of the six-party talks are at this point in time, even though I’m sort of jobless at this point, I would be hesitant to answer that they look bright,” Lim Sung-nam, South Korea’s chief envoy to the talks, said Sunday at the East-West Center’s international media conference at Yonsei University.

The six-party talks — which include the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia — broke off in 2009 following a North Korean missile launch.

The U.S. and North Korea reached a deal in February to restore U.S. food aid to the chronically impoverished country in return for a moratorium on long-range-missile launches and uranium enrichment.

But it collapsed in April after North Korea, under new leader Kim Jong-un, unsuccessfully sought to launch a satellite into space.

Mr. Lim noted that the abortive launch followed an aggressive pattern of behavior, including the North’s sinking of a South Korean warship in March 2010 and its shelling of a South Korean island eight months later.

“Despite these provocations by North Korea, the Republic of Korea has remained committed towards a negotiated settlement of the North Korean nuclear crisis,” he said.

Mr. Lim also urged China, which remains North Korea’s major patron, to use its leverage.

China might able to do more to lead North Korea in the right direction, to the right side of history,” he said.

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About the Author

Ben Birnbaum

Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.

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