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U.S. Won’t Support Nuclear Talks Until North Korea Makes Changes

The U.S. won’t back multinational talks on North Korea’s atomic weapons unless North Korea stops provocative actions, starts dismantling its nuclear program and halts arms trading, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

North Korea and South Korea two days ago agreed to try to revive six-party talks on the North’s nuclear-weapons program, with the first formal discussions in months signaling an easing of tension between the two rivals. The U.S., China, Russia and Japan are also participants in the group.

“We remain firm that in order for six-party talks to resume, North Korea must take steps to improve North-South relations,” Clinton said yesterday at an Asian security meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali. “North Korea continues to present a critical proliferation challenge to the international community and to threaten regional stability with its provocative actions,” Clinton said.

Clinton said that North Korea’s uranium enrichment activities violate its commitments under a 2005 joint statement by the parties involved in talks as well as United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Arms Transfers

North Korea continues to transfer arms to clients overseas and pursue other proliferation activities in violation of Security Council resolutions, Clinton said, according to prepared remarks that were handed out to reporters. Clinton also criticized North Korea for two attacks on South Korea that killed 50 people, spurring the U.S. to come to the defense of its treaty ally and pressure China to rein in Kim Jong-Il’s regime.

“The United States stands by our ally South Korea, and our commitment to its security is non-negotiable,” Clinton said. She urged members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to help maintain peace and stability in northeast Asia by implementing UN resolutions barring North Korea from pursuing its nuclear program or dealing in weapons fully and transparently.

The six-party forum last convened in December 2008. The Asean Regional Forum this week is one of the only annual events attended by diplomats from all the countries involved.

North Korea and South Korea remain technically at war after their 1950-1953 conflict, in which the U.S. and China fought on opposite sides, ended in a cease-fire.

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