BEIJING, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- North Korea is ready to return to the six-party talks on its denuclearization without preconditions, the country's nuclear envoy said in China.
Speaking at a forum in Beijing, North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said the Communist country wants the talks, which stalled in 2008, to resume. Those involved in the talks include the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States.
"We are ready to enter the six-party talks without preconditions," Kim told the forum organized by the Chinese foreign ministry, South Korea's Yonhap News reported.
Kim said the "preconditions" set by South Korea and the United States "are in violation of the spirit of the Sept. 19 joint statement." He was referring to the joint statement in 2005 marking the start of the talks.
In the 2005 agreement, North Korea pledged to give up its nuclear weapons program in return for aid and a U.S. promise not to attack or invade North Korea, Yonhap said.
The six-party talks stalled in late 2008 after North Korea walked out over United Nations sanctions for its past two nuclear tests. In February of this year, the isolated Communist country, a close ally of China, conducted its third nuclear test, ignoring strong objections from the international community including China, and issuing provocative threats against the United States and South Korea.
The United States and its allies have said the talks cannot restart until North Korea shows a much greater degree of willingness to end its nuclear program.