The U.S. agreed to a two-week delay in talks to end North Korea's nuclear weapons program after the communist nation said Monday it won't return until American military exercises in the South are finished.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry said the country is delaying its return to talks in Beijing until the week of Sept. 12 because of the war games and because of a U.S. appointment of human rights envoy to North Korea.
“We're prepared to engage in six-party talks in a constructive manner,” U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said at a press briefing in Washington yesterday, according to a transcript on its Web site.
The fourth round of negotiations, involving North and South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia, and Japan was due to start this week after delegates failed to reach agreement in 13 days of talks that ended on Aug. 7. The U.S. is offering North Korea food and economic aid and security guarantees in return for the abolition of its nuclear program, Bloomberg says.
Talks stalled after North Korea insisted on retaining a peaceful nuclear program to produce power. U.S. officials are concerned North Korea may convert a civilian nuclear program to military use and build nuclear weapons. North Korea said on Feb. 10 it had nuclear weapons and planned to build more.
Earlier this day Pravda.ru reported that two U.S. lawmakers appealed for North Korea to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks as they set off on an official trip to Pyongyang.