Days before North Korea’s latest nuclear-bomb
test, the Obama administration secretly agreed
to talks to try to formally end the Korean War,
dropping a longstanding condition that
Pyongyang first take steps to curtail its nuclear
Instead the U.S. called for North Korea’s
atomic-weapons program to be simply part of
the talks. Pyongyang declined the counter-
proposal, according to U.S. officials familiar
with the events. Its nuclear test on Jan. 6
ended the diplomatic gambit.
The episode, in an exchange at the United
Nations, was one of several unsuccessful
attempts that American officials say they made
to discuss denuclearization with North Korea
during President Barack Obama’s second term
while also negotiating with Iran over its
nuclear program.
The State Department on Sunday acknowledged
the U.S. exchange with North Korea, saying it
took place in accordance with longstanding
U.S. goals.
“To be clear, it was the North Koreans who
proposed discussing a peace treaty. We
carefully considered their proposal, and made
clear that denuclearization had to be part of
any such discussion,” said spokesman John
Kirby, adding the North rejected it. “Our
response to the North Korean proposal was
consistent with our longstanding focus on
Mr. Obama has pointed to the Iran deal to
signal to North Korea that he is open to a
similar track with the regime of Kim Jong Un.
But the White House sees North Korea as far
more opaque and uncooperative. The latest
fruitless exchanges typified diplomacy between
the U.S. and Pyongyang in recent years.
Since taking power at the end of 2011, Mr.
Kim has stepped up the North’s demands for a
peace treaty to formally end the Korean War,
63 years after it ended with an armistice. Many
analysts see the move as an attempt to force
the removal of the U.S. military in the South.
The U.S. insists denuclearization must have
priority, and said that has to be part of any
peace talks, even while dropping the
precondition that North Korea first take steps
that show a willingness to give up its nuclear
Pyongyang rejects that. “For North Korea,
winning a peace treaty is the center of the
U.S. relationship,” said Go Myung-hyun, an
expert on North Korea at the Asan Institute for
Policy Studies, a Seoul-based think tank. “It
feels nuclear development gives it a bigger
edge to do so.”
The international reaction to North Korea’s
January nuclear test and follow-up rocket
launch this month was swift, with Japan
imposing new penalties on Pyongyang, South
Korea closing an inter-Korean industrial park
that had filled the North’s coffers and
American lawmakers passing a bill to tighten
economic sanctions against the regime. Mr.
Obama signed the bill into law last Thursday.
Click for more from The Wall Street Journal.Read related stories at >>>>

source : foxnews

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