- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2001

North Korea has responded positively to a Bush administration offer to resume negotiations and will meet a U.S. official in New York today, the State Department said yesterday.
U.S. negotiator Charles "Jack" Pritchard, special envoy for Korean peace talks and U.S. representative to the Korea Peninsula Energy Development Organization, is to meet today with North Korean Ambassador Li Hyong-chul "to make arrangements for bilateral talks," said a State Department official.
The Bush administration had suspended a dialogue with the Pyongyang regime of Kim Jong-il that began under the previous Clinton administration.
Mr. Bush said during a visit by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung several months ago that previous accords with North Korea lacked sufficient verification that the North would carry out promises to halt nuclear weapons development and missile proliferation.
But last Thursday, Secretary of State Colin Powell and the White House both said the administration has completed a review of policy toward North Korea and was ready to resume talks.
With South Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo standing at his side after a luncheon meeting, Mr. Powell said he expected talks with North Korea would open in New York.
Administration officials rejected accusations by Democrats and others that the decision marked the latest in a series of policy reversals by the Bush foreign affairs team.
In policy adjustments since the election campaign, the administration has deferred a decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, agreed to keep a strong troop presence in Bosnia, sent CIA Director George Tenet back to the Middle East, accepted a report labeling global warming as a real threat to the planets environment and remained involved in Africas political, military, economic and AIDS problems.
During a meeting of the House International Relations Committee yesterday, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia James Kelly denied that the resumption of talks with North Korea was a reversal of policy.
He told the panel that the new administration, like others before it, had sought merely to review the policies of the previous president before deciding whether to continue them or change them.
The New York Times reported Sunday that Mr. Bush received a strong memo recommending a resumption of talks from Asian affairs expert Donald P. Gregg which was forwarded to him by his father, former President George Bush.
The North Koreans are currently suffering the latest in a series of famines and receive considerable U.S. food aid.
U.S. officials say that such aid is humanitarian and not contingent on any political issues.
One senior Bush administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said last month that more than 1 million North Koreans died of famine in the mid-1990s because the Clinton administration failed at first to offer humanitarian aid.
But once Mr. Clinton began a food pipeline via the World Food Program, it was bitterly criticized by Republicans in Congress who said the food could feed the Norths million-man army.
Mr. Kelly also said yesterday the Bush administration is committed to continue to supply fuel oil pledged in 1994 to the North if it would suspend its nuclear program, suspected of producing nuclear weapons.
Japan and South Korea have pledged to provide the North with twin nuclear power reactors as well, under the 1994 Agreed Framework signed by the United States and the North in Geneva in 1994.
North Korea has emerged from long decades of isolation from the West since the 1994 accord. It hosted a summit with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung last year and has established diplomatic relations with several Western nations.

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