[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
'N.Korea seeks guarantees for nuclear talks'
Ex-US President says Pyongyang wants security guarantees from Washington before giving up its nuclear weapons programme.
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2011 02:20

Carter (second left) said North Korea wants better ties with US  [Reuters]

North Korea has refused to make major concessions in talks with ex-US President Jimmy Carter, insisting Washington provide some kind of security guarantee in return for giving up its nuclear weapons programme, the former leader said in a blog.

Carter and three other former state leaders, known as The Elders, were due to leave Pyongyang on Thursday after a "private" visit aimed at defusing tensions on the peninsula, as well as discussing the impoverished North's pleas for food aid.

The North has said it wants to rejoin international aid-for-disarmament talks, which it walked out of over two years ago in anger over a new round of UN sanctions for its second nuclear test and a long-range missile test.

"We are hearing consistently throughout our busy schedule here in Pyongyang that the North wants to improve relations with America and is prepared to talk without preconditions to both the US and South Korea on any subject," Carter wrote in a blog on Wednesday on the Elders website (www.theelders.org)

"The sticking point -- and it's a big one -- is that they won't give up their nuclear programme without some kind of security guarantee from the US".

The North has repeatedly stated it wants an assurance the United States will not attack it, as well as a peace treaty.

Shuttle diplomacy

Carter and his team, comprising former Irish President Mary Robinson, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and ex-Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland, have met the North's ceremonial head of state and foreign minister.

Experts say there is a possibility they will also meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un before departing for Seoul on Thursday.

Carter's visit comes as momentum builds towards a resumption of aid-for-disarmament talks involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

South Korea, with Washington's backing, has demanded the North "show a responsible attitude" for last year's two deadly attacks on the peninsula for the talks to restart.

The North denies responsibility for the torpedoing of a South Korean warship last year, and said it shelled Yongpyeong island after South Korea test-fired artillery into its waters.

Shuttle diplomacy between the six-party envoys has increased in recent weeks, and China's nuclear envoy and his South Korean counterpart agreed in Seoul this week on a stage-by-stage process for restarting the talks.

However, both Seoul and Washington are sceptical about the North's sincerity about denuclearising, citing its revelations last year of major advances in a uranium enrichment programme which could open a second route to make an atomic bomb.

Source:
Al Jazeera and Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
join our mailing list