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South Korea says North must seize diplomatic chance

Other News Materials 22 September 2009 05:43 (UTC +04:00)
South Korea's president urged rival North Korea to seize a "last chance" to shed its nuclear weapons in exchange for aid for its struggling economy and an end to diplomatic isolation, Reuters reported.
South Korea says North must seize diplomatic chance

South Korea's president urged rival North Korea to seize a "last chance" to shed its nuclear weapons in exchange for aid for its struggling economy and an end to diplomatic isolation, Reuters reported.

President Lee Myung-bak said wealthy South Korea and its diplomatic partners had extended the offer of a "grand bargain" of economic assistance to the impoverished North once it gives up its nuclear ambitions.

"North Korea must not throw away what may be their last chance," he told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Returning to disarmament talks was the only way for North Korea to revive its economy and escape deep international isolation, Lee said.

Lee attends the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week and one item on the agenda is North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Regional powers have been trying to get the North back to six-way talks on ending its nuclear weapons program in return for aid and diplomatic rewards, but Pyongyang has refused to return to the table and instead sought direct negotiations with Washington.

"Unfortunately, we do not find any signs anywhere that North Korea has such intentions," Lee said of the North's refusal to return to diplomatic talks with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

The six-party framework under which North Korea would get economic help and diplomatic recognition in exchange for nuclear disarmament was neither a "threat to their regime nor an attempt to isolate them," he said.

Separately, a senior U.S. official said he expected China to press North Korea to resume the six-party talks when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits the North in October.

"We expect China to take a fairly clear line about their desire to see North Korea resume interactions as part of the six-party framework," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell told reporters after a meeting between the U.S. and South Korean foreign ministers on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

"We have been very gratified by much of what we have heard from the Chinese in terms of their desire to work closely not just with us but with other partners in ensuring that North Korea returns to a responsible diplomatic set of interactions," he added.

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