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U.S. warns North Korea of further isolation

WASHINGTON (Yonhap News) ― The White House said Friday that North Korea will face further isolation if it refuses to engage in dialogue with South Korea in a serious manner.

The North demonstrated a lack of seriousness once again by walking out of its rare military talks with the South last week, White House spokeswoman Robert Gibbs said at a press briefing.

“I think it was clear, again, when talks broke down earlier this week bilaterally, that they were ... that they had no real intention of entering into a constructive dialogue like this,” he said. “And I think it results in further isolation of North Korea, and they can make a conscious decision but it’s going to require that conscious decision.”

He was responding to a question on preconditions set by Washington for the resumption of the long-stalled six-way talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons drive.

After months of provocations marked by the artillery barrage on a South Korean island and the torpedo attack on a South Korean warship last year, the North has been seeking dialogue with the South apparently in a bid to secure food and fertilizer aid.

The two sides had talks between army colonels last week to lay the groundwork for higher-level negotiations, possibly between defense ministers.

But the talks ended in acrimony as the North rejected the South’s offer of including the issue of last year’s attacks into agenda items for a future high-level meeting.

“I think what was clear in the bilateral talks that quickly broke down earlier this week between South Korea and North Korea was that North Korea genuinely lacked the seriousness to be involved in this,” Gibbs said. “And I think before we return to six-party talks, I think North Korea has to demonstrate a seriousness ... the seriousness with which they need to employ to live up to their commitments.”