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Asian Leaders Urged to Prompt N. Korea to Resume Talks

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2004 – Secretary of State Colin Powell is wrapping up an East Asia trip focused on prodding North Korea to resume talks aimed at ending its nuclear-weapons program.

In Tokyo, Powell cited a "sense of urgency" in getting North Korea to return to the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. North Korea refused to return to the fourth round of talks, last scheduled for September, citing conditions it wants met to do so.

Among North Korea's demands are security guarantees and economic aid. It also called for the end to the United States' alleged "hostile policy" toward it.

During the flight to Tokyo on Oct. 23, Powell told reporters the best way to deal with North Korea's concerns is within the framework of the six-party talks, which include Japan, China, South Korea, North Korea, Russia and the United States.

"Any outstanding issues that are holding up the progress should be dealt with in the context of the discussions, not by press statements or rhetoric going back and forth," he said. "And we hope that the North Koreans will recognize that this is the only way to move forward."

During a roundtable discussion with Japanese reporters in Tokyo on Oct. 24, Powell reiterated the need for multinational negotiations. "The sooner North Korea understands that there is only one way to solve this problem -- and that is through the six-party framework -- the better off we will be," he said.

The secretary denied Pyongyang's claims that the United States is hostile toward North Korea. "We have made it clear that we have no intention of invading them, no intention of attacking them. We have no need to," Powell said. "We want to solve this diplomatically. We have no hostile intent."

He also dismissed North Korea's charge that the Proliferation Security Initiative exercise being held this week off the coast of Japan shows evidence of that alleged hostility. The multinational naval exercise, in which France, Australia and Japan are also taking part, focuses on efforts to stop the smuggling of nonconventional weapons and the materials used to make or deliver them.

The exercises "are for the purpose of protecting the world, protecting the region and protecting the international community against weapons sales, contraband and other illegal and improper activities that are taking place on the high seas," Powell said following a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura in Tokyo on Oct. 24.

"The only thing North Korea should be concerned about is whether or not they are going to be caught in the act of participating in this kind of illicit traffic," Powell said. "So this is not hostile to any nation that is acting in an appropriate manner."

Powell said the only message North Korea should take from the exercise is that "we are deeply concerned about proliferation, and the international community is doing more and more together to deal with the problem of proliferation."

The secretary said the United States will negotiate with North Korea only through the multilateral framework. "We have had direct talks with the North Koreans before," Powell told Japanese journalists in Tokyo. He said the result of those negotiations, the Agreed Framework, didn't solve the problem.

"The North Koreans said 'Fine, we'll do everything we said we would do over here, at Yongbyon,'" Powell said. "And then right around the corner, they started to develop nuclear weapons in another way, through enriched uranium activity."

"It is important for North Korea to know that their problem was not just with the United States, it was with their neighbors," Powell said during an Oct. 24 meeting with Japanese journalists. "Their neighbors see that North Korea is a greater threat to them than it is to the United States."

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Biographies:
Secretary of State Colin Powell

Related Sites:
Department of State
Background Notes: North Korea



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