The US and South Korea Wednesday declared that North Korea must demonstrate real commitment to denuclearization and to improving ties with the South before the Six-Party Talks could be resumed.
"South Korea and the US agreed that any future Six-Party Talks should not be talks for talks' sake and, more than anything else, that the North should show sincerity about denuclearization," the Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified South Korean government official as saying, following a meeting between Stephen Bosworth, Washington's special envoy on North Korea, and Seoul's chief nuclear negotiator, Wi Sung-lac.
The two sides also agreed that the international community should reprimand the North for its newly unveiled uranium-enrichment program.
"The agreement between the US and South Korea means that their policy on the North remain unchanged and that the Six-Party Talks will remain stalled," said Cai Jian, deputy director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University.
The talks between Bosworth and Wi in Seoul came three days after North Korea called for an end to confrontation with the South, urging dialogue in the wake of the exchange of artillery fire in November.
Pyongyang's Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Wednesday that military tension on the peninsula must come to an end "at the earliest possible date."
Bosworth's trip to South Korea, which will be followed by his visit to China and Japan, came about two weeks before Chinese President Hu Jintao's scheduled meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington.
China had proposed that an emergency meeting be held among special representatives of the Six-Party Talks, but the US and South Korea rejected it.
In Washington, US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the US had made it clear that it was open to dialogue with North Korea, but "we have to be assured that that dialogue would be constructive, and we don't just want to have talks for talks' sake."
LüChao, director of the Korean Research Center at China's Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that it is a good thing that Bosworth made the diplomatic trip to Asia as "this is a sign of Washington's willingness to defuse the peninsula tension through dialogue."
"But is does not mean the US has given up its option of military deterrence," said Lü, noting that the US recently deployed another nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USCarl Vinson, in Northeast Asia.