17 Jun 2013

Talks with US wanted by Nth Korea

6:14 am on 17 June 2013

North Korea is proposing high-level talks with the United States over nuclear tensions and the situation on the Korean peninsula.

The National Defence Commission said it wanted "serious discussions ... to secure peace and stability".

But on Thursday, Pyongyang cancelled official talks with South Korea.

The BBC reports US and North Korean officials meet periodically, but have not engaged in high-level talks since 2009.

Earlier this year Pyongyang threatened to launch a nuclear attack on both the US and South Korea.

On Friday, Pyongyang issued an appeal calling on the South to change fundamentally its "policy of confrontation".

The National Defence Commission on Sunday said that in the meantime it proposed "high-level talks between the North and the US to secure peace and stability in the region and ease tension on the Korean peninsula".

The commission said it was willing to have "serious discussions on a wide range of issues, including the US goal to achieve the world free of nuclear arsenal".

Washington could decide the time and venue, but there should be no preconditions, the statement said.

North Korea conducted another nuclear test, its third, on 12 February.

US response

White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough said the United States will engage only in "real" talks with North Korea and will judge actions, not Pyongyang's "nice words" about wanting high-level negotiations.

He said any talks have to be based on the North living up to their obligations on proliferation, nuclear weapons, smuggling and other issues.

Mr McDonough said the bottom line is they're not going to be able to talk their way out of the sanctions they are under now, sanctions that Russia and China supported.