North Korea sets conditions for dialogue

April 18, 2013 at 3:58 PM
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PYONGYANG, North Korea, April 18 (UPI) -- North Korea has set conditions, including the United States and South Korea withdrawing "all nuclear war making capabilities from the region," ahead of talks.

Pyongyang's National Defense Commission, in a statement reported Thursday by the official Korean Central News Agency, said Washington and Seoul should stop provocations and fully apologize for aggression and give assurances not to carry out nuclear war games designed to intimidate the North.

Commenting on the reports, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Obama administration and the United States remain committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

"The United States has been and remains open to authentic and credible negotiations," Earnest said, noting he hadn't had a chance to speak with Obama about the specifics of North Korea's latest overture.

The actions and rhetoric from Pyongyang, Earnest said, "actually indicate the opposite ... ."

"We're open to credible negotiations with the North Koreans," the White House spokesman said, "but we also need to see some clear evidence that the North Koreans themselves are willing to live up to their international obligations, are willing to demonstrate their commitment to ending the nuclear program, something they've promised in the past."

Yonhap News quoted the National Defense Commission as saying, "It is time to withdraw all nuclear war making capabilities from the region and officially proclaim such devices will not be reintroduced [back into South Korea] down the line."

The statements from North Korea come after days of highly provocative rhetoric, including threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States, restarting an idled nuclear plant and long-range ballistic missile tests.

North Korea is under tough sanctions by the U.N. Security Council for its Feb. 12 nuclear test, its third since 2006 in violation of U.N. resolutions.

South Korea, Japan and the United States remain on alert for any missile test by the North.

Earlier, the North dismissed an offer of dialogue by South Korean President Park Geun-hye and the Unification Ministry.

"Fabrications of truth, like blaming the North for the sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010 and recent Internet hacking of financial institutions and media have to be discontinued," the North's National Defense Commission said in its latest statement, Yonhap reported.

The North's committee responsible for conducting dialogue with the South, also said enforcing sanctions and challenging the country's space and nuclear development efforts are hostile moves and cannot be tolerated.

The South Korea Unification Ministry of Unification said the North's conditions are nothing new and dismissed them as irresponsible, Yonhap said.

"The North has overlooked or ignored the meaning and intent of talks proposed by Seoul and Washington," a ministry official said.

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