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N.Korea’s denuclearization first, six-party talks later: Sherman

North Korea should stop its uranium enrichment program and implement denuclearization measures if it wants to resume the stalled six-party talks, a senior U.S. diplomat said Tuesday.

“I think that both the Republic of Korea, the United States and our other partners have been very clear on what North Korea must do to be able to have a resumption of the six-party talks,” U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told reporters in Seoul after meeting with South Korean foreign ministry officials.

“They have not yet made all of the commitments they need to, including on ending their uranium enrichment program.”

Asked whether Washington plans to hold more bilateral nuclear talks with Pyongyang after their meeting in Geneva last month, Sherman said, “If the Republic of Korea and the United States believe that it’s useful to continue bilateral talks we will certainly look at that.”

“But, right now the responsibility is with North Korea to meet the requirements that have been laid out very clearly in order to ensure the six-party talks might resume again,” she said.

Sherman was former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s policy coordinator on North Korea.

The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have been stalled since April 2009, when the North quit the negotiation and then conducted its second nuclear test a month later.

The North has insisted on an early resumption of the six-party talks without preconditions but the South and the U.S. have reiterated that the communist state must demonstrate its sincerity by halting the uranium enrichment program.

Earlier in the morning, she met with Vice Foreign Minister Park Suk-hwan and other South Korean senior officials to discuss alliance issues.

Sherman’s visit to Seoul is her first since being appointed Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in September.

“I’m always completely delighted to be in Seoul. My deep regard and deep feeling for your country goes back many years,” Sherman told Park.

“The alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea is immensely strong. Our presidents have excellent relationship.”

Park asked for Sherman’s full support in handling North Korean issues.

She also met with Deputy Minister for Political Affairs Kim Jae-shin and Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs Kim Bong-hyun.

By Kim Yoon-mi
(yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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