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Bosworth calls for 'serious negotiations'

Jan. 4, 2011 at 6:53 AM   |   Comments

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SEOUL, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Serious negotiations must be "at the heart of any strategy" in dealing with North Korea, the U.S. special envoy for the region said in Seoul Tuesday.

Stephen Bosworth, arriving in the South Korean capital on the first leg of his Asian trip to discuss the tense Korean Peninsula and the stalled six-nation talks on the North's denuclearization, told reporters at the airport the trip is meant to consult and coordinate positions on the way forward in dealing with North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported.

"We believe that serious negotiations must be at the heart of any strategy for dealing with North Korea, and we look forward to being able to launch those at a reasonably early time," Bosworth said.

The six-nation denuclearization talks involving the two Koreas, China, Russia, the United States and Japan have remained stalled since December 2008 because of Pyongyang's intransigence, officials have said. Lately, the communist nation has indicated its willingness to resume them.

But the North's nuclear threat also has increased with its claims of developing a new, highly sophisticated uranium enrichment facility, believed by some to be part of a new atomic weapons program.

During his Asia trip, Bosworth is also scheduled to visit Tokyo and Beijing.

The trip precedes a scheduled Jan. 19 summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao in Washington, at which North Korea is expected to be a main topic.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalated after North Korea's Nov. 23 shelling of the Yellow Sea island of Yeonpyeong.

Both South Korea and the United States want the North to show commitment to give up its nuclear program before restarting any dialogue, Yonhap said.

Bosworth was quoted as saying that Washington will "continue to coordinate very closely with the Chinese as we move forward."

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