WASHINGTON, April 29 (UPI) -- The United States wants North Korea to return to denuclearization talks even as the sinking of a South Korean ship is being investigated, an official said.
U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, in stating the U.S. position, was responding to a question on whether efforts to restart the talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament would be suspended in view of the investigation into the March 23 sinking of a South Korea warship near the maritime border with North Korea.
"Well, I wouldn't necessarily link those directly," Crowley said in a report on the State Department Web site. "The investigation on the ship-sinking continues. As we've said … we'll draw conclusions once we understand what the investigation discovers."
"We want to see North Korea come back to the six-party process," he said. "We're committed to this with our partners. But, clearly, provocative actions that North Korea takes (have) an impact on the broader environment. So I wouldn't predict anything going forward."
South Korean investigators have said a torpedo, and not an internal explosion, likely caused the ship to sink. North Korea has denied any involvement.
The six-nation nuclear talks among the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan stalled when North Korea pulled out of the process.
If the sinking of the ship was an external explosion "what was it and where did it come from?" Crowley asked.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Seoul officials have said they may not push for the resumption of the nuclear talks until the investigation is completed. The report suggested the case might be brought before the U.N. Security Council for additional sanctions against North Korea.