The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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N. Korea to consider US offer on security

Seoul, Oct. 25 (Reuters): North Korea, in a significant shift in a year-old nuclear crisis, said today it was prepared to consider a US offer of security guarantees in return for Pyongyang dropping its atomic weapons programme.

But, in comments from a foreign ministry spokesman, the communist North said it was too early to assume more multilateral nuclear talks would be held until Pyongyang had checked Washington’s intentions through diplomatic channels.

US President George W. Bush proposed the unspecified written undertakings this week during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in Bangkok.

“We are ready to consider Bush’s remarks on the written assurances of non-aggression if they are based on the intention to co-exist with the DPRK and aimed to play a positive role in realising the proposal for a package solution on the principle of simultaneous actions,” the spokesman said.

DPRK are the initials of the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The North’s official KCNA news agency published the spokesman’s comments in English. “It is premature to talk about the six-way talks under the present situation unless the will to accept the principle of simultaneous actions is confirmed,” he said. China hosted an inconclusive first round of talks in Beijing in August with Japan, Russia, the two Koreas and the US. “This is a responsible reaction which will set a positive tone for the next round of talks,” said Wi Sung-lac, director-general of the north American affairs department at the South Korean foreign ministry. “We hope this, combined with China’s help, could help generate momentum for dialogue. But we are not overly optimistic and we will take a careful approach,” he said.

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