- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2003

PYONGYANG, North Korea, Jan. 19 (UPI) — Russia Sunday put forward its own plan to end the North Korean nuclear crisis, proposing a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, bilateral and multilateral dialogue among concerned parties and a resumption of humanitarian and economic programs.

The proposal was put forward by Alexander Losyukov, the Russian president's special envoy to Pyongyang, in a meeting with top North Korean officials Sunday. He told the Itar-Tass news agency Pyongyang's response to the proposals would be known Monday.

"The package proposal was forwarded to the North Korean leadership," he said. "The Korean side listened attentively to the Russian proposals."

He described the talks as "very warm, friendly and constructive."

"Russia's package proposal on overcoming the Korean problem," as the plan is called, contains three ideas.

According to Tass, firstly, it presupposes "a nuclear-free status of the Korean Peninsula, strict observance by all sides of obligations, stemming from other international understandings, including the 1994 Framework Agreement."

Secondly, it presupposes "a constructive bilateral and multilateral dialogue between the interested parties, one of whose results should be guarantees of security for North Korea."

Thirdly, it is proposed "to resume humanitarian and economic programs which operated on the Korean Peninsula."

Losyukov held meetings with North Korean Deputy Prime Minister Jo Chang Dok, speaker of the North Korean parliament Choe Tae Bok and Deputy Foreign Minister Kung Sun Un.

Russia is a key ally of North Korea, the world's only Stalinist state, and is believed to hold influence over President Kim Jong Il.

The Russian plan comes the same day as a U.S. proposal in the form of "some economic cooperation, perhaps in the power field" in exchange for Pyongyang's dismantling of its nuclear program.

The international community is keen the crisis be resolved through diplomatic means. Pyongyang is already believed by the CIA to possess one or two nuclear weapons.

Diplomatic efforts include a planned summit between North and South Korea, Jan. 21-24. The Chinese are also sending envoys to North Korea for talks, and Australian and U.N. diplomats have all been in Pyongyang recently.

The foreign policy conundrum in Asia erupted late last year when the United States said Pyongyang had acknowledged to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly and other officials it had violated the 1994 Framework Agreement with Washington to scrap North Korea's nuclear weapons program in return for economic assistance.

North Korea, Washington said, had begun a program to produce uranium-enriched nuclear material suitable for weapons soon after it signed the 1994 pact, which shuttered a nuclear reactor that produced plutonium, provided for nuclear inspections and led to the sealing of spent fuel rods, from which the weapons-grade plutonium could be extracted.

The admission, which North Korea denied last week, came after Kelly presented North Korea with intelligence evidence of the enrichment program during a visit to Pyongyang.

Two weeks ago, North Korea walked out of the NPT after expelling international weapons inspectors. It also threatened to restart its missile-testing program.

It said any imposition of economic sanctions against it would be considered war. Pyongyang wants a formal non-aggression pledge from Washington as well as direct talks and other concessions.

U.S. officials have said, however, that any talks — whether direct or through third parties — would not be negotiations, but only discussions on how Pyongyang would go about dismantling its nuclear program.

On Sunday, however, the official North Korean news agency said any dialogue must be bilateral.

North Korea and the United States "should sit face-to-face to solve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, as it was authored by the latter," the statement on the Korean Central News Agency said. "The internationalization of this issue would make the prospect of its settlement more complicated and gloomy."


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