Bush Administration Welcomes Resumption of Korean Nuclear Talks

By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - The Bush administration says it is “pleased” that the Six-Party Talks among North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States over North Korea’s nuclear program are scheduled to resume December 18.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said December 11 that the September 19, 2005, agreement in which North Korea agreed in principle to abandon its nuclear programs in exchange for security guarantees and economic cooperation provides the basis for further talks, which are aimed at achieving a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.  Snow said if the North Korean government “step[s] away” from its nuclear program, “a host of options, all good,” becomes available.

The purpose of the new round of talks will be “to take a look at the September 19th agreement and figure out if the North Koreans are serious about moving forward,” Snow said.  A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman announced earlier December 11 that the talks would convene in Beijing after a 13-month hiatus. (See related article.)

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the participants plan to build on the September 19, 2005, agreement and “actually make progress in taking concrete actions and steps to implement that understanding.” The United States wants the parties to make progress by “committing at this round to concrete actions, and then quickly thereafter following through on those commitments.”

McCormack said the negotiations likely would be intense, and there are no guarantees of success, but said each of the countries has “a healthy expectation of what is expected and what they might expect to hear in general terms,” he said.

“[T]he operating principle here is that good faith actions will be met in turn by good faith from the other members of the talks.  That's the central operating principle here,” he said.

For additional information, see The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.