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U.S. official urges North Korea to commit to six-party talks

Sydney Seiler said if the North Korean leadership continues to ignore obligations and the path of denuclearization, it faces the prospects of even greater isolation.

By Elizabeth Shim
U.S. official urges North Korea to commit to six-party talks
A Chinese magazine featuring a front page story on Kim Jong Un in 2010. China's influence on Pyongyang has waned over the years, an analyst said Tuesday, as North Korea continues to violate its international obligations. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo

WASHINGTON, April 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks said Tuesday North Korea has repeatedly rejected offers for dialogue from Washington despite U.S. willingness to engage Pyongyang to commit to guidelines of the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks.

In a panel co-hosted by the Global Peace Foundation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Sydney Seiler said Pyongyang has repeatedly and openly violated denuclearization commitments agreed upon in 2005.

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But the U.S. has left the door open for North Korea to step up to its international obligations, Seiler said, applying the "flexibility, creativity and commitment to negotiations" that was responsible for the breakthrough in talks with Cuba, Iran, and Burma.

"The progress in our talks with Iran clearly demonstrates our willingness to engage with countries with whom the United States had longstanding differences," said Seiler.

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"We continue to remain committed to negotiation on the basis of the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks."

Seiler said if the North Korean leadership continues to ignore obligations and the path of denuclearization, it faces the prospects of even greater isolation.

"We have shown flexibility to talks with North Korea," said Seiler.

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"We're not afraid of talking to them."

Seiler made his remarks in a panel that included Quansheng Zhao, a professor of international relations at American University and Victor Cha, former advisor to President George W. Bush on North Korea.

Zhao said China is working in conjunction with the United States on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Beijing's influence over Pyongyang has significantly waned, he said, because of Pyongyang's prioritization of bilateral talks with Washington.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping also has developed closer relations with his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye and has accepted South Korea as a founding member of the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB.

While Xi has met with Park several times during his presidency, Zhao said Xi had yet to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In a separate remark, Seiler said Pyongyang's desire for a bilateral relation with the United States has to be questioned, when all five countries involved in the Six-Party Talks agree denuclearization is a multilateral concern.

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