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North Korea is scared and wants better US ties, SKorean Nobel laureate says

Agence France Press | May 23, 2005

North Korea is "scared" and wants better ties with Washington, former South Korean president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kim Dae-Jung said Monday, urging Pyongyang to return to nuclear talks.

"North Korea is extremely scared of the United States... It strongly desires improved relations with the United States. It also hopes to improve ties with Japan," said Kim, who pushed engagement with the North, known as the "Sunshine Policy," during his presidency from 1998 to 2003.

Kim, who held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang in June 2000, said the nuclear standoff must be resolved peacefully while demanding North Korea totally abandon its nuclear program.

"North Korea must immediately return to the six-party talks and declare its intention to give up on nuclear weapons," Kim told a seminar at Tokyo University.

Kim said North Korea strongly hoped to improve relations with the United States and asked Washington to offer Pyongyang incentives if the North agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

On Sunday North Korea acknowledged that on May 13 it held the first face-to-face talks with the United States in half a year. At the meeting in New York, Washington reiterated that it recognizes North Korea as a sovereign state and has no intention to invade the country, an unidentified North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman said North Korea would contact Washington when the time was right to update its position on the nuclear stand off.

North Korea has boycotted six-nation talks since the third round in June in Beijing last year. Aside from the United States and North Korea, the talks include host China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.

After declaring itself nuclear-armed in February, the North said this month it had unloaded 8,000 spent fuel rods from its reactor, a step that would allow it to reprocess weapons-grade plutonium for more nuclear bombs.

US officials have said recently there were signs North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test.

Kim Dae-Jung is the predecessor of President Roh Moo-Hyun, whose government on Sunday let North Korean cargo ships dock in South Korea for the first time in two decades to pick up fertilizer aid for the impoverished communist state.


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