Published : 2013-08-27 10:57
Updated : 2013-08-27 10:57
North Korea's top military official proposed talks with South Korea, China and the United States to discuss its nuclear weapons program, but the proposal was met with skepticism in Seoul and Washington, a diplomatic source said Tuesday.
Choe Ryong-hae, the vice marshal of the North Korean People's Army, proposed the "four-party talks" to China in May, when he visited Beijing as a "special envoy" of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the source said.
The North's proposal for such talks, which include all parties to the six-nation nuclear negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear weapons program except for Russia and Japan, was apparently aimed at speeding up the process to reconvene the broader multilateral forum, according to the source.
"Vice Marshal Choe made the proposal for the four-party talks during his visit to Beijing in May, but such talks are unlikely because there is no pledge from Pyongyang to take sincere steps toward denuclearization," the source said.
"The U.S. side won't agree to hold such talks unless North Korea meets preconditions on denuclearization."
China's chief nuclear negotiator, Wu Dawei, arrived in Pyongyang on Monday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported in a one-line dispatch, without giving details of his itinerary.
Last week, a senior Chinese military official said he sees a chance to resume nuclear talks with North Korea, citing recent signs of easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Guan Youfei, the director of the external affairs office of China's defense ministry, made the remarks during a press conference in Washington, D.C. while accompanying Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency.
"An opportunity or a window has emerged to open talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue," the report said, with Guan citing "signs of eased tensions" on the Korean Peninsula and North Korea's "willingness to conduct multilateral talks."
After stoking tensions early this year by conducting its third nuclear test, North Korea has recently made overtures toward South Korea and the U.S.
The six-party talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear program have been stalled since late 2008. The multilateral forum involves the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.
South Korea and the U.S. have called on North Korea to demonstrate its seriousness about denuclearization through concrete actions before such talks can take place.
This week's visit by Wu to North Korea came on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the launch of the six-party talks. (Yonhap News)