Washington Ready for Normal Relations with North Korea

Korea Times
Lee Jin-Woo

U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Alexander Vershbow said on Wednesday Washington is prepared to move forward toward the establishment of normal relations with North Korea.

“We are ready to begin the process of removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and from the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act,” Vershbow said at a symposium in Seoul.

But progress on all these tracks depends on achieving the complete elimination of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs, he said.

“We’re not ready to settle for a partial solution. It is only with complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization that we can contemplate the full normalization of relations,’’ he said.

Under the Feb. 13 accord in the six-party talks, the United States agreed to begin talks with the communist North over normalizing diplomatic relations. The two countries have had no diplomatic relations since the 1950-53 Korean War, which divided the Korean Peninsula into the two Koreas. The conflict ended in a cease-fire, but no peace treaty was signed.

The ambassador also hinted that the United States might urge the Banco Delta Asia (BDA), a bank in Macau where the North funds have been frozen, to replace its management, who they hold responsible for helping the North with counterfeiting and money laundering.

Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said in Beijing North Korea is appeared ready to follow through on the February agreement.

“Once they have their funds from the bank, they are prepared to do their part of the bargain, which is to shut down the Yongbyon plant,’’ Hill was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. The U.S. envoy was referring to the BDA issue.

Hill rejected suggestions that the six-party disarmament negotiations, which have been stalled since February, were dead.

Hill exchanged ideas with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei on ways to resolve the stalled nuclear issue but did not give specific details, the AP reported.


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