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US Official Emphasizes Security Guarantees in Exchange for N. Korean Nukes

US Official Emphasizes Security Guarantees in Exchange for N. Korean Nukes

Anchor: A senior U.S. State Department official emphasized the need for Washington to focus on persuading Pyongyang that its demand for security guarantees may be taken into consideration should it turn over its nuclear program. While the U.S. is making efforts to bring the North back to negotiations, the North Korean leader slammed the U.S. for imposing sanctions on the regime.
Choi You Sun reports.

Report: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell said the U.S. will take North Korea's security interests into consideration as the two sides negotiate Pyongyang's denuclearization.

Testifying at a Senate hearing on Wednesday after the two sides' working-level talks broke down in Sweden earlier this month, Stilwell said there's a need to encourage the North to engage in negotiations, referring to such efforts by U.S. chief negotiator Stephen Biegun.

Stating a security guarantee from the U.S. is the only thing North Korea thinks about, the U.S. official said the task at hand would be to convince Pyongyang to trade its nuclear program for security assurances from the U.S.

The latest remarks indicate Washington may be willing to hold serious discussions with Pyongyang about its demand for security guarantees in return for denuclearization steps in an apparent bid to bring the North back to the negotiating table.

While security guarantees and sanctions relief are two of the North's biggest demands from the U.S., Stilwell, in a written statement submitted before the hearing, said the sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council remain in effect.

Earlier on Wednesday, North Korea's state-run news agency carried photos of leader Kim Jong-un riding a white horse at Mount Baekdu, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, slamming U.S. sanctions and calling for greater "self-reliance" efforts.

During a visit to a construction site of a special tourist zone in Samjiyon County at the foot of the mountain, Kim blasted the U.S. for its "ceaseless sanctions," saying the pain inflicted on the North Korean people has made them angry.

In the past, Kim has visited Baekdu -- a place of significant importance in Korean mythology -- ahead of big political or diplomatic decisions, and his recent equine adventure at the mountain suggests such a decision may be forthcoming.
Choi You Sun, KBS World Radio News.

[Photo : YONHAP News]

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