Clinton Cites Incentives for N. Korea for Return to Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says North Korea has been left with no friends in the international community because of recent provocative actions. But closing out two days of talks at the ASEAN regional forum in Thailand, Clinton said Pyongyang could reap “significant” new outside aid if it returns to six-party nuclear talks and offers irreversible disarmament steps

Clinton made clear again the United States and its negotiating partners do not intend to reward North Korea just for returning to the talks, which Pyongyang walked away from earlier this year.

But, in a media event capping two days of consultations with ASEAN and other Pacific-region foreign ministers, the secretary said – if Pyongyang is prepared to offer irreversible steps to scrap its nuclear program – it can expect far-reaching benefits from the other parties in the Chinese-sponsored talks.

“This, in turn, would lead us and our partners to reciprocate in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. Full normalization of relationships, a permanent peace regime and significant energy and economic assistance are all possible in the context of full and verifiable de-nuclearization,” said Clinton. “In the meantime, we will undertake the necessary defensive measures to protect our interests and our allies. North Korea’s ongoing threatening behavior does not inspire trust, nor does it permit said us sit idly by.”

Aides to the secretary say North Korea was the most prominent issue in her talks at the ASEAN forum, which included separate meetings with her counterparts from other parties to the nuclear talks, including China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.

Clinton says it was clear from the ASEAN meetings that North Korea “has no friends left” in the international community. She says North Korea’s remarks at ASEAN “evinced no willingness to pursue de-nuclearization.”

North Korean officials told reporters here they consider the six-party talks dead and that there is no prospect of resumption, unless the United States ends what was termed its anti-North Korean attitude.

Member of the U.S. delegation had no interaction with North Koreans. But members of the Clinton team did meet, late Wednesday, with the Burmese delegation, despite criticism by the secretary of the Rangoon government’s “persecution” of political opponents, notably democracy leader Aung San Suu Ky.

Under questioning, Clinton welcomed Burma’s expressed intention to abide by the new U.N. Security Council resolution tightening economic curbs on North Korea.

“I do think there is a positive direction that we’ve seen with Burma, both in the already existing cooperation they showed with respect to the North Korean ship, in their statements to us and others that they intend to do their part to enforce [U.N. resolution] 1874,” she said. “Now obviously, we have to see that unfold. But that’s never happened before and we’re very encouraged by that.”

Aung San Suu Kyi – in Burmese detention most of the time since 1990 – in on trial for violating terms of her house arrest – a proceeding that could lead to a new prison term.

Senior American officials say the outcome of her trial will affect U.S. willingness and ability to take positive steps in the relationship, including the possibility of renewed American investment in Burma.

The investment ban was first imposed by the administration of President Bill Clinton and recently extended by President Obama for another six months, pending a review of U.S.-Burma policy.

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