US-NK policy goal

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, May 19 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. government aims to expand dialogue with North Korea in fiscal 2014 to improve the communist country's "international standing," according to the State Department's report to Congress.

The policy target is seen as in line with the South Korean administration's goal of building mutual trust with the North.

Contingent on North Korea's cooperation, the department also plans to pursue multilateral discussions on steps towards irreversible denuclearization of the communist nation, including on its uranium-enrichment program, and an initial verification protocol, the department said in the annual performance plan report.

Other goals include enhancing international implementation of sanctions to curb North Korea's proliferation, maintaining global unity in response to any North Korean provocations and strengthening trilateral cooperation with South Korea and Japan on Pyongyang.

The department's primary goal for the fiscal year 2013 to end in September has been to improve inter-Korean relations and engage China to influence North Korea to refrain from provocations, read the report.

It also wants to "negotiate early steps toward irreversible denuclearization ... and begin initial verification activities."

The six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program have been stalled for years.

North Korea has rejected the South's offer of dialogue and the U.S. call for taking initial steps towards denuclearization to show its seriousness about negotiations.

Following weeks of relative calm, the North fired four short-range missiles into the East Sea over the weekend.

In response, the White House said, "North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which only further isolate the DPRK (North Korea) and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia."

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>