US, South Korea want to push bilateral talks with North
US envoy Stephen Bosworth and South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator appear to be pressing for greater North-South dialogue before returning to the six-party talks.
Seoul, South Korea
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The agreement came during a meeting between US special envoy to North Korea Stephen Bosworth and Seoul’s chief nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-lac in the South Korean capital on Wednesday, according to local media. While China and North Korea have been calling for a return to international nuclear talks, Bosworth’s visit suggests that smaller, bilateral meetings are needed before the six-party talks reopen.
"The South and the US shared an understanding that future six-party talks should not be talks for talks' sake and, more than anything else, that the North should show sincerity about denuclearization," a senior South Korean official who requested anonymity told Seoul’s Yonhap News Agency at the conclusion of Bosworth’s meeting. The official added that both sides concluded that improvement in inter-Korean relations was essential for the six-party talks to move forward.
Upon his arrival in South Korea this week, Bosworth seemed optimistic about the possibility of reopening the six-party talks.
“We believe that serious negotiations must be at the heart of any strategy for dealing with North Korea,” he told reporters at Incheon International Airport on Tuesday. “And we look forward to being able to launch those at a reasonably early time.”
Yet, as Bosworth wrapped up his visit to Seoul on Wednesday before heading to China, it seemed unlikely that North Korea would swiftly meet Seoul and Washington’s preconditions to the six-party negotiations.