Tue, Sep 12, 2006 - Page 5 News List

No more carrots for N Korea: US

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT The US envoy to the six-party talks about North Korea's nuclear program said Pyongyang had ample incentive already to restart negotiations

AFP , SHANGHAI

North Korea will receive no further incentives to return to stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear program, Christopher Hill, the top US envoy on the issue, said yesterday.

"There is no reason why the other five [nations] should be sitting around looking for inducements to get the North Koreans to accept what is on the table, which is clearly in their interest to accept," Hill said.

"We're asking the North Koreans to come to the table and implement what they already agreed to do," he told reporters in Shanghai.

Hill was speaking on the last day of a six-day tour of China before boarding a plane to Seoul, where he will meet his South Korean counterpart, and then return to Washington.

Hill's remarks reiterated US views that no further concessions should be made to North Korea to induce the nation to return to the talks which also involve China, the US, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

In talks hosted by China last September, North Korea agreed in principle to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

But Pyongyang boycotted the talks two months later to protest US sanctions on a Macau-based bank accused of laundering and counterfeiting money on behalf of the impoverished regime.

Hill said he was worried that the hard-line Stalinist state was not seriously interested in returning to the talks.

The US has said it is discussing with several countries new sanctions against North Korea to ratchet up the pressure on Pyong-yang after the isolated state defiantly test-fired missiles two months ago.

The North fired seven ballistic missiles on July 5 including its long-range Taepodong-2 believed to be capable of striking the US' western coast, sparking international condemnation and a strong rebuke from the UN Security Council.

The missiles splashed down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) while the Taepodong flew just two kilometers, according to a Japanese report.

The 15-member Security Council, including the North's only major ally China, unanimously adopted a resolution condemning its actions and imposing missile-related sanctions.

Hill called on the international community to follow through on UN resolution 1695, warning that not doing so would weaken the effectiveness of such diplomatic actions.

But last week South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun appeared to have further tripped up US diplomatic efforts when he softened his stance on the tests.

Roh, who has pursued a policy of engagement with the North, said the missile tests were likely politically motivated and "too meager" to reach the US but "too big" to be directed at South Korea.

His comments came ahead of a meeting on Thursday with US President George W. Bush who is pushing for enforcement of the missile-related sanctions and working to curb the North's missile exports.

North Korea declared itself a nuclear-armed power in February last year but is not known to have conducted any atomic weapon tests.

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