North Korea’s senior nuclear strategist has called for a new round of six-nation denuclearisation talks without precondition.
The remarks by Kim Kye Gwan, first vice foreign minister, in Beijing came on Wednesday at a forum marking the 10th anniversary of the talks, which have been stalled since the last round in 2008 broke down over how to verify North Korea was meeting its pledges.
“The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea/North Korea) supports the six-party talks and any small regional talks within the framework, but we hope the talks have no preconditions, because preconditions lead to mistrust,” he told delegates.
“We will make sincere efforts for denuclearisation but it is against the September 19 Joint Statement to let the DPRK take action before restarting the talks.”
Kim was referring to an agreement on 19 September 2005, which in part saw the six parties agree to a principle of “action for action” and “words for words”.
US officials have rejected holding new discussions before the North makes a clear commitment to carry out earlier promises to disarm, saying holding new talks that go nowhere will only undermine the six-party framework.
South Korea and Japan are also suspicious of such calls.
The other two parties to the talks, Russia and China, have been more supportive of getting the dialogue back on track.
In his speech to the Beijing forum, Wang Yi, Chinese foreign minister, said the parties should seize on a warming trend on the Korean Peninsula to take whatever actions are needed to restart talks.
Since the breakdown in talks, North Korea has escalated tensions with a third nuclear test and missile launch, prompting a tightening of UN sanctions against the isolated communist regime.
Recent months have seen the North take a more moderate line as it sought to restart contacts with South Korea and repair ties with China, its most important ally.
The 10th anniversary forum had been promoted as a way of highlighting the achievements of the negotiations, but there were no immediate signs that it had brought the sides any closer.
The US embassy in Beijing said that it was sending a diplomat to attend only as an observer and that there were no plans to meet any North Korean representatives.