Published : 2013-10-03 09:32
Updated : 2013-10-03 09:32
After months of strategic disregard of North Korea, the Obama administration appears to be listing specific actions North Korea should take for the resumption of talks.
A senior State Department official described it as a "credible threshold" for North Korea on diplomacy.
Secretary of State John Kerry will confer with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, "on what that means in terms of specific steps," the official told reporters on background, as they were heading to Tokyo, according to a transcript released by the department.
Kerry will attend the Security Consultative Committee (SCC) meeting on Thursday, in which Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will also participate. The SCC is widely called the two-plus-two session between the allies.
The department official said North Korea will be a main agenda item, along with territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas as well as Syria and other pending global issues.
Pyongyang has called for the resumption of any type of dialogue with Washington. The Obama administration remains firm in its position that it won't have talks for talks' sake.
But many express worries that the unpredictable communist nation will turn to another provocation cycle if its peace offensive bears no fruit.
Commercial satellite imagery indicates that North Korea has restarted its five-megawatt gas-graphite reactor in Yongbyon.
A photo taken on Sept. 19 shows hot wastewater being released into the Kuryong River from a recently installed drainpipe, part of a new secondary cooling system completed in the summer, according to the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
"The release of hot water indicates that the reactor is in operation and the turbine powered electrical generators are producing power," the institute said on its website, 38 North.
The U.S. has also come under growing pressure from China to lower the bar and sit down with the North Koreans.
Adding to the pressure, China recently published a list of dual-use items to be banned from export to North Korea that could be used for its nuclear weapons program.
Chinese officials say it's Washington's turn to do something to resume the six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons drive.
In the two-plus-two meeting, the top policymakers of the U.S.
and Japan will "compare notes on the recent actions by China, including their decision to impose an export ban in an effort to prevent North Korea from obtaining material that could facilitate its WMD program," the State Department official said. "We will also explore what more we need in terms of both cooperation from China on the pressure track and what we would consider a credible threshold for North Korea on the diplomatic track."
On his trip to Washington in September, meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he was confident of reaching a "new, important" deal with Kerry on ways to resume six-way talks. Still, there has been no news of significant progress.
Observers here say the U.S. may agree to hold "exploratory talks" with North Korea to weigh its intentions. (Yonhap News)