Bosworth says U.S. assessing need for food in North, aid monitoring essential
WASHINGTON ― The U.S. point man on North Korea said Tuesday that regime change in North Korea is not Washington’s goal.
“We do not regard regime change as the outcome of our policy, but we do regard a change in regime behavior as necessary to any fundamental improvement in the overall relationship,” Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
He said the U.S. government is “currently assessing need” of providing food aid to North Korea.
“We have some other things that we need to do in response to North Korea’s request for renewed food aid, and then we will talk to the North Koreans about a monitoring system, which at its minimum would be as effective as the one that we had there last time.”
He added that Washington “will not provide food aid without a thorough assessment of actual needs and adequate program management, monitoring, and access provisions to ensure that food aid is not diverted or misused.”
Testifying before the hearing, Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said no decisions have been made on the issue.
“We are still in the study phase, and we are taking this matter very seriously and we’re in close coordination with our South Korean colleagues, as well,” he said.
He also urged North Korea to improve ties with South Korea before any resumption of the six-party nuclear talks, deadlocked for years over the North’s missile and nuclear tests and other provocations.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell (left) and Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, attend a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)
“We believe that North-South dialogue is an important initial step toward the resumption of the six-party talks,” Campbell said. “North Korea’s decision to walk out of the recent colonel-level North-South military-to-military talks squandered a valuable opportunity to improve North-South relations and demonstrate its commitment to dialogue. We will carefully monitor events on the Korean Peninsula for evidence of a North Korean commitment to improving inter-Korean relations.”
Inter-Korean military talks broke down last month as the North balked at Seoul’s demand for an apology for last year’s provocations, dampening the reconciliatory mood Pyongyang has established recently to attract food and economic aid.
The six-party talks have been deadlocked for more than two years over the North’s missile and nuclear tests and attacks on the South Korean warship Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island that killed 50 people last year.
Seoul and Washington demand Pyongyang apologize for the provocations before moving to the denuclearization-for-aid talks, while Beijing wants the multilateral nuclear talks to reopen as soon as possible without any conditions attached.
“In the short-term, the U.S. supports direct talks between the DPRK and the ROK to address the South’s legitimate grievances, including North Korea’s sinking of the Cheonan and its shelling of Yeonpyeong Island,” Campbell said. North Korea is formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and South Korea the Republic of Korea.
South Korea and the U.S. also want the U.N. Security Council to address the North’s uranium program before any resumption of the six-party talks.
At the hearing, U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-Ma) urged the Obama administration to engage North Korea bilaterally to pave the way for the early resumption of multilateral talks on the North’s denuclearization.
Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted the North’s attacks on a South Korean warship and border island that killed 50 people last year.
“Given these very real risks, the best option is to consult closely with South Korea and launch bilateral talks with North Korea when we decide the time is appropriate,” Kerry said. “Fruitful talks between the U.S. and North Korea can lay the groundwork for resumption of the six party talks.”
(From news reports)