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North Korea officials expressed interest in denuclearization statement, negotiator says

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea officials expressed interest in denuclearization statement, negotiator says
North Korea may be interested in pushing forward with returning to principles set forth in the Sept. 19 Joint Statement signed in 2005 by the United States, North Korea, Japan, South Korea, China and Russia. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- North Korea officials may have expressed interest in the possibility of implementing the Sept. 19 Joint Statement on denuclearization after meeting with former U.S. negotiators in Malaysia.

But the Track 2 dialogue is being dismissed by the U.S. State Department as a channel of communication independent from government policy, Voice of America reported.

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U.S. delegates including former Clinton administration negotiator Robert Gallucci; Leon Sigal, a North Korea specialist; and former U.S. special envoy for North Korea Joseph DeTrani had met with North Korea official Han Song Ryol and Jang Il Hun, deputy chief of North Korea's mission to the United Nations.

DeTrani told VOA in a phone interview discussions were held in a friendly atmosphere with North Korean diplomats and that the group explored the possibility of revisiting the wording of the Sept. 19 Joint Statement.

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The Sept. 19, 2005 agreement signed by the United States, North Korea, Japan, South Korea, China and Russia stipulated all six parties would work toward the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. North Korea also agreed to abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs.

The two sides agreed to search for a compromise solution but details were not discussed, DeTrani said.

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The report reveals some shifts in North Korea's attitude to relations with the United States. In May, KCNA had accused the United States of reneging on promises reached in the agreement and North Korea had vowed an armed response.

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Chang Yong-suk, a senior researcher at Seoul National University's Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, said the talks reaped results if North Korea had suggested it was willing to talk denuclearization, according to News 1.

In Washington, however, the State Department denied any ties to the talks.

Spokesman John Kirby told reporters the meeting was held without government input, according to Japanese news service Jiji Press.

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