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2005-01-14-Engel-North Korea

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2005 blog

Rep. Eliot Engel

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Rep. Eliot Engel says North Korea

will return to nuclear conference table
,  Jan. 14, 2005


U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y) said today (Friday, Jan. 14) that top North Korean officials have agreed to return soon to six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons that have been stalled since last June. 

Engel was part of a delegation led by Rep. Curt Welden (R-Penn.), vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, that sought to persuade the North Koreans to sit down again with representatives of the United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

"The North Koreans know that the United States and the international community want them to rid themselves of nuclear weapons, but they feared that when President Bush added them to the ‘axis of evil’, they were next to be invaded after Iraq,” Engel reported on his website on Friday, Jan. 14. “At this delicate stage, I don’t think calling North Korea and its leaders names is helpful.”

The congressional group met with North Korea’s President Kim Yong Nam and with Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun, among other officials.

“We told them that the U.S. has no intention to attack North Korea, and that the Administration does not seek regime change there,” Engel said>.

He noted that he had visited North Korea in 2003, and this time “I saw a marked softening of North Korea’s rhetoric and statements. By the time we were through with our discussions, the North Koreans began to trust us and became convinced that we were not there to make them look bad. They want reassurance that the United States doesn’t want regime change and that we do not have hostile intent.”  

Asked for comment on the North Korean's willingness to resume peace talks, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan responded aboard Air Force One, while en route to Jacksonville, Florida: 

"We'll see by their action how serious they are. I think all parties in the region have made it very clear that they want to see a non-nuclear peninsula, and they're all saying the same thing
to North Korea. And we want to work through a peaceful, diplomatic process that involves all six parties. That's what we're committed to doing. We have a number of practical steps that address the concerns of all parties that we think is the way forward, and we look forward to the next round of talks. We hope that those can occur soon and that we can talk about how to move
forward on the proposal. We have not set any preconditions for the next round of talks."

Donald H. Harrison