GENEVA, Oct. 23 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s top negotiator has arrived in Geneva for a second round of bilateral meeting with his U.S. counterpart as part of diplomatic efforts to resume long-stalled negotiations on ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs.
The talks, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, come more than a week after North Korean leader Kim Jong-il renewed calls for the quick resumption of the nuclear talks without preconditions.
The North quit the disarmament-for-aid talks in April 2009 and conducted a second nuclear test a month later. But it has since repeatedly expressed its desire to return to the negotiating table without any preconditions. The talks also involve South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.
North Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan arrived in Geneva on Saturday ahead of meeting with the U.S. top envoy on Pyongyang, Stephen Bosworth, who will be replaced by Glyn Davies.
Davies, the U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, will also attend the second bilateral talks with North Korea in three months. U.S. and North Korean officials are expected to hold a preliminary meeting on Sunday before the two-day close-door talks.
Bosworth held talks with the North Korean envoy in New York in July, in which the U.S. laid out a set of initial steps North Korea should take for the resumption of the nuclear talks.
Seoul and Washington have insisted, among other things, that Pyongyang halt its uranium enrichment program and allow U.N. inspectors back into the country before resuming the talks.
North Korea revealed in November that it is running a uranium enrichment facility. Highly enriched uranium can be used to make weapons, providing Pyongyang with a second way of building nuclear bombs in addition to the existing plutonium program.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il said in a recent written interview with Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency that his country possesses its nuclear deterrent to safeguard the country in response to what he claims are U.S. nuclear threats and increasingly hostile policy.
Still, he said Pyongyang is willing to improve relations with Washington if the U.S. abandons its hostile policy toward the North and treat it in good faith.