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WikiLeaks: Mongolia passed North Korea message to U.S.

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mongolian diplomat recounted "notable" meeting with North Korean officials
  • North Korean officials criticized longtime allies, suggested talks in Mongolia
  • North Korea "only interested in self-protection," document says

(CNN) -- North Korea attempted to reach out to the United States through Mongolia in 2009, suggesting that the Mongolians host disarmament talks between Washington and Pyongyang, American diplomats reported in a document obtained by the website WikiLeaks.

A Mongolian diplomat passed that information to the U.S. Embassy in Ulaan Baatar after an August 2009 meeting with Kim Yong Il, North Korea's vice foreign minister, a leaked embassy cable recounts. "There are no eternal enemies in this world," the Mongolian official quoted Kim as saying.

"VFM Kim said the DPRK is spending too much on weapons rather than on its children, but that the current reality dictates that they cannot get away from weapons for now," the cable states, using shorthand for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "Kim said the DPRK is not a threat and was only interested in self-protection."

The document is among the vast cache that the website WikiLeaks began releasing Sunday to widespread condemnation from the United States and its allies.

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The Mongolian diplomat who recounted the meeting described it as "notable" since the North Koreans "did not read from a prepared script, they were not aggressive and made no criticism of the United States, and they criticized China and Russia 'three or four times' for supporting recent U.N. resolutions aimed at the DPRK," the cable states.

The North Koreans repeated their insistence that they would not return to the six-party regional talks aimed at convincing Pyongyang against dismantling its nuclear weapons program, according to the document. As they had in the past, they indicated that they wanted to discuss disarmament and the normalization of relations with Washington in one-on-one talks, which an embassy official suggested could be held in Mongolia, according to the Mongolian diplomat.

The cable quotes Kim as saying that former President Clinton's visit to North Korea "has greatly improved the prospects for such talks." Clinton had gone to Pyongyang a week earlier to retrieve two American journalists held on charges of entering the country illegally.

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