The U.S. should increase bilateral negotiations with North Korea, with the six-nation talks on nuclear disarmament serving as "a useful supplement," former U.S. diplomat Stephen Bosworth said after visiting Pyongyang, Bloomberg reported.
Kim Jong-Il's regime is waiting for President Barack Obama's administration to make its first move, said Bosworth, part of a seven-person private delegation that left the communist country yesterday. The U.S. needs to handle relations "in a more straightforward manner," he said in Beijing today.
The group's five-day visit came amid reports that North Korea is readying a test of a long-range missile powerful enough to hit the U.S. and as talks to persuade Kim Jong-Il's regime to end its nuclear weapons program remain stalled.
"The ball is in our court," Bosworth, an academic who served as ambassador to South Korea from 1997 to 2001, said in an interview. The North Koreans "don't care whether it's Obama or anyone else. The rest of the world is Obama-ized, but they are not. So they're waiting to see what happens."
Bosworth declined to say which North Korean officials met with the U.S. group of experts and former officials.
North Korea, which tested a nuclear weapon in 2006, has rejected international demands that inspectors be allowed to remove samples from its Yongbyon reactor, the source of the regime's weapons-grade plutonium. The refusal has stalled six- nation disarmament talks that also involve the U.S., China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.