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N. Korea ready to suspend nuclear, missile tests if 6-way talks resume

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

North Korea has expressed an intention to suspend testing of nuclear devices and long-range missiles if six-nation talks on its denuclearization resume, a former U.S. State Department official said Wednesday.

Ri Yong Ho, North Korea's vice foreign minister, presented the country's position in a meeting in Berlin last month, according to Joel Wit, who formerly handled North Korean issues in the State Department and attended the meeting.

In the meeting with Stephen Bosworth, a former U.S. special representative for North Korean policy, Ri confirmed that the multilateral talks could take up the dismantlement of its nuclear weapons, according to Wit.

Ri served as North Korea's chief delegate to the long-stalled six-nation talks hosted by China that also involve Japan, South Korea and Russia.

Wit said he has notified the State Department of Pyongyang's position.

The North Korean official expressed reluctance to freeze the launch of rockets, which many other countries regard as a cover for testing ballistic missile launches.

The North Korean side repeated its call for an unconditional resumption of the six-nation talks, which last convened in 2008, in the meeting in Berlin.

The United States urged North Korea to take action and convince countries concerned that Pyongyang is still committed to past agreements reached in the multilateral dialogue to dismantle its nuclear programs.

Ri proposed breaking up the dialogue framework into four sections -- denuclearization, political, military and economic issues -- toward the goal of dismantling its nuclear arsenal and facilities related to nuclear weapons, according to Wit.

North Korea apparently envisions discussing the possibility of normalizing ties with the United States, converting the truce pact ending the Korean War into a peace treaty, and suspending joint exercises by the U.S. and South Korean militaries.

North Korea also apparently intends to take up the lifting of economic sanctions imposed by the United States over its nuclear programs.

A series of recent satellite images released by a U.S. website monitoring North Korea indicate Pyongyang has rebooted a nuclear reactor that can produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Neither country raised the facility in Yongbyon, the centerpiece of the country's nuclear program, according to Wit.

North Korea did not say whether it would accept a call to suspend its uranium enrichment program in the Berlin meeting.

Wit leads the 38 North website under Johns Hopkins University's U.S.-Korea Institute.

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/131009/n-korea-ready-suspend-nuclear-missile-tests-if-6-way-t