‘US open to diplomacy with new N Korea rulers’

The United States is open to diplomacy with North Korea`s new leaders but they must improve frosty ties with South Korea.

Seoul: The United States is open to diplomacy
with North Korea`s new leaders but they must improve frosty ties with South Korea and show seriousness about nuclear disarmament, a senior US diplomat said Wednesday.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said the North
must take "necessary steps" before any revival of long-stalled
six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

"We are open to diplomacy with North Korea but there are a
very clear set of steps necessary," he said.

The US and its allies Japan and South Korea "are still
waiting to see whether the new government in North Korea is
prepared to take the necessary steps", Campbell told

He did not elaborate. The US and its allies have
repeatedly called on the North to shut down its uranium
enrichment plant -- which experts say could be reconfigured to
make weapons -- before the nuclear negotiations can resume.

Campbell, speaking after talks with South Korea`s nuclear
envoy Lim Sung-Nam, also stressed that Pyongyang must make
peace with Seoul if it wants a better relationship with

He said he and Lim "underscored again very clearly that
the road to these improved relations runs through Seoul for
North Korea".

The North has stressed that its policy remains unchanged
after the death of longtime leader Kim Jong-Il on December 17,
and the takeover by his youngest son Jong-Un.

It has vowed never to deal with "traitors" in the South`s
conservative government, accusing them of failing to respect a
mourning period for the late leader.

China, the North`s economic prop and sole major ally,
moved quickly to give its backing to the young and untested
Jong-Un after his father`s sudden death.

It also ordered swift deliveries of rice and fuel to the
impoverished state in a gesture of support for the son,
according to a Japanese media report.
Campbell urged China to share its thoughts on the new
leadership: "We want them to share with us more their
perspectives and their plans."

The nuclear talks grouping the two Koreas, China, Japan,
Russia and the United States were last held in December 2008.
Pyongyang walked out in April 2009 and tested its second
atomic weapon a month later.


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