Clinton encouraged by N. Korean actions

July 23, 2011 at 10:46 AM

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, July 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says North Korea must improve relations with South Korea before talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program can resume.

Clinton, attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Ministerial Meeting in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, said Friday the United States is encouraged by North-South Korean talks on the sideline of the meeting, Voice of America reported.

Clinton made the comments at a closed-door meeting of ASEAN and other foreign ministers. She said the United States is "firm" in its demand that Pyongyang initiate further conciliatory steps toward Seoul before the nuclear talks can resume.

The nuclear talks involve the United States, Russia, China, Japan and the two Koreas. Nuclear negotiators from the two Koreas met on the sidelines of the ASEAN forum Friday for the first time since negotiations broke down in 2008.

China's Xinhua news agency said Pyongyang has proposed resuming the six-party talks immediately, with no preconditions.

Clinton said North Korea must show a "change in behavior" by ceasing provocative acts and by taking steps toward irreversible denuclearization.

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