China's offer not enough to resume N. Korea nuke talks: official

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 (Yonhap) -- China's new offer for conditions to restart the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program is "forward-looking" but it still falls far short of South Korean and U.S. expectations, a senior South Korean official said Tuesday.

As it stands, chances are low that the negotiations will resume at an early date, as relevant parties will have to continue consultations, the official told reporters on background.

"We take a positive view of China's efforts to create conditions for dialogue that would lead to the denuclearization (of North Korea). In terms of contents, however, there is a significant need for consultations. I think it's hard to expect a rapid process of resuming dialogue," he said.

China's top point man on Korea, Wu Dawei, visited Washington last week for talks with his American counterpart Glyn Davies. Wu laid out Beijing's "idea" on how to reconvene the six-party talks last held in December 2008.

As Davies shared the results of the Washington-Beijing discussions with South Korea's top nuclear envoy Cho Tae-yong, who is on a trip here, the Chinese official unexpectedly headed to Pyongyang.

Details of Wu's offer delivered to the U.S. government have not been made public yet.

"I think China's idea can be said to be forward-looking, compared with its previous stance, but it is not enough yet to meet what we want," he said, refusing to name the specifics of the proposal.

As to pre-conditions for returning to dialogue with Pyongyang, the South Korean official said the communist nation should take steps beyond what it agreed to do in the so-called "Leap Day" deal.

Under the agreement with the U.S. reached on Feb. 29 of last year, the North agreed to suspend its nuclear weapons tests and uranium enrichment and allow international inspectors to monitor activities at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon.

The agreement effectively broke apart when Pyongyang fired a long-range rocket two months later. It also conducted another nuclear test earlier this year.

"There is no change in our position that (in order to show its seriousness on dialogue) North Korea should do more than just implementing the Feb. 29 deal," the official said.

As the North reneged on the Leap Day deal, the Obama administration has lost appetite for bilateral negotiations, he added.

"The U.S. wants China to be involved in future negotiations," he said.

He suggested that both South Korea and the U.S. are eager to seize the momentum created by China's active shuttle diplomacy.

The allies are focusing on two things -- crafting a framework for negotiations to produce a substantial outcome and preventing the North from bolstering its nuclear arsenal while dialogue is under way, said the official.

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