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N. Korean Offer Welcome But ‘insufficient’

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) — North Korea’s offer to suspend nuclear tests and resume the six-party talks is welcome but “insufficient,” a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said.

Victoria Nuland said the offer, reportedly made Wednesday by North Korean leader Kim Jong II while visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, is a familiar one.

“We’ve seen these reports,” she said during her daily briefing. “Obviously, if in fact they are now willing to refrain from nuclear tests and missile launches, this would be welcome but it would be insufficient” [to return to the talks].

Nuland said North Korea’s disclosure last November of uranium enrichment facilities, which was contrary to commitments it made in 2005, remains “a matter of serious concern” to the United States because the facilities are a clear violation of the North’s obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The six-party nuclear disarmament talks among the United States, Russia, China, Japan and the two Koreas stalled in late 2008 after North Korea pulled out to protest U.N. sanctions.

Kim and Medvedev met in eastern Siberia’s Buryatia region, where North Korea said it is willing to return to the talks without preconditions and to consider a moratorium on nuclear testing, a Medvedev spokeswoman said.

South Korea and the United States have said the talks cannot resume unless North Korea demonstrates its commitment to denuclearization.

“Russians are members of the six-party group. Their goals are the same as ours,” Nuland said.

“We’ve worked very hard to maintain close contacts with the Russians, and I think that we will not go back to six-party talks until North Koreans are prepared to meet all of the commitments that we’ve all laid out.”

Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at Washington’s Heritage Foundation, told Voice of America vague pledges made by the North Korean leader are part of a “charm offensive.” Klingner said there there may be less substance to the gestures than indicated by news headlines.

A South Korean official said North Korea needs to address the uranium enrichment issue, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

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