- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 5, 2004

SEOUL — Communist North Korea dug in yesterday, saying its U.N. diplomats met U.S. officials in New York on Tuesday and again on Friday, but concluded that it should hold off on negotiations until President Bush’s administration changes Washington’s “hostile” policy toward Pyongyang.

“Our analysis of the results of the contact in New York prompts us to judge that the U.S. side showed no willingness to change its policy toward us and intends to use the six-party talks as a leverage for forcing us to dismantle all our nuclear programs, including the nuclear development for a peaceful purpose first,” a North Korean spokesman said, according to the official KCNA news agency.

The North’s statement marked the latest in what has become a protracted ritual of six nations — the United States, Japan, Russia, China and the two Koreas — doing little except talk about talks.

Three rounds of six-nation talks aimed at persuading the North to halt nuclear-weapons development have taken place since last year, all without a breakthrough. North Korea boycotted a fourth round scheduled for September, and analysts believed it was holding out for a change in the White House.

North Korea says it wants to maintain nuclear facilities for power generation and medical and agricultural research, but says it will abandon its nuclear-weapons development if the United States provides economic compensation and security guarantees, including a peace treaty to replace an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Washington has demanded an immediate dismantling of all the North’s nuclear activities.

“The U.S. should come out to replace the unstable state of cease-fire with a durable peace mechanism … to co-exist with the [North] if the bilateral nuclear issue and other security issues are to be fairly solved,” KCNA said in another dispatch.

The American-led U.N. Command, which defended South Korea during the war, signed a truce, not a peace treaty, with North Korea at the end of the war, leaving the Korean Peninsula technically still at war.

Since Mr. Bush’s November re-election, diplomacy has resumed.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo met in Washington with outgoing Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Thursday, and North Korea’s nuclear program was a key topic.

Before Mr. Dai’s trip, China sent its ambassador for the nuclear dispute, Ning Fukui, to North Korea to sound out the North on the issue.

South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck arrived in Washington Thursday, while President Roh Moo-hyun, on a visit to London, urged that the “six-party talks … be reconvened as soon as possible.”

Yesterday, North Korea said it was not in a hurry.

“As the second Bush administration has not yet emerged, we would like to wait a bit longer to follow with patience what a policy it will shape,” the North Korean spokesman said.

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